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Lawsuit Filed in Pennsylvania to Ensure Voters Can Obtain Ballots Amidst Mail Delays

By Shawn Griffiths, Independent Voter News | September 2, 2020

Harrisburg, Penn. - Pennsylvania was among a handful of states that made headlines for failing to meet the demand for absentee ballots during its primary elections over the summer. A new lawsuit has been filed by the Fair Elections Center and Hogan Lovells on behalf of one state voter who never received a requested ballot and was forced to choose between her health and her right to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fair Elections Center stated in a press release Wednesday that the lack of a failsafe against late-delivered or undelivered ballots ultimately disenfranchised thousands of voters in the June primary as they were forced to make a difficult choice. The plaintiff in Fair Elections Center’s lawsuit, 72-year-old Jacquelyn Cramer, requested an absentee ballot for the primary in May, but never received it.

The Fair Elections Center said the choice between her health and her rights as a US and Pennsylvania citizen is not one Cramer wants to make again in November.

“This lawsuit is about protecting the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution, and providing a failsafe option so no Pennsylvania voter has to choose between their health and their fundamental right to vote,” said the group’s senior counsel, Michelle Kanter Cohen. “We’re looking to ensure that, in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic, every eligible voter has access to a ballot, and they can safely vote.”

The lawsuit seeks to ensure that a failsafe option is in place in the event that a voter does not receive their requested ballot, receives it late, or cannot vote in person due to concerns of contracting the COVID-19 virus, including:

  • Requiring electronically delivered replacements for timely-requested absentee ballots should a voter not receive theirs;

  • Giving voters an option to use a downloadable write-in ballot if a requested ballot does not arrive; and

  • Permitting voters to designate a person to pick up their requested, but undeliverable ballot in the week prior to the election.

“The continued threat posed by Covid-19, and expected delays in the delivery of election mail that both the U.S. Postal Service and Pennsylvania have warned about, make it essential that eligible voters have alternatives for obtaining expedited delivery of ballots if their mail-in or absentee ballots do not arrive on time,” said Hogan Lovells Senior Associate Jasmeet Ahuja.

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