ACLU of Pennsylvania sues Commonwealth over laws dealing with absentee ballots

Cherri Gregg
November 16, 2018 - 8:30 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- The ACLU of Pennsylvania and other civil rights groups filed a lawsuit this week against the Commonwealth challenging the rules on absentee ballots. It claims the laws disenfranchise voters.

According to the lawsuit brought on behalf of the nine voters and the ACLU, Pennsylvania law allows you to apply for an absentee ballot through the Tuesday before Election Day, but it must be returned by 5 p.m. that Friday.  The Pennsylvania's absentee ballot deadline is one of the earliest absentee of all 50 states. 

"Arbitrarily some people who follow all the rules set out in our laws, don't get to vote," said Molly Tack-Hooper, staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. 

The plaintiffs, which include nine voters, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, allege that a voters could get their application for an absentee ballot by the deadline and then not have the time to return it as required.  

"This happens to thousands of people every year, and there's just no reason that we need to have such an early deadline for returning absentee ballots," said Tack-Hooper. "Given all those considerations- our current system is unconstitutional."

The lawsuit alleges Pennsylvania absentee ballot law violates free speech and equal protection laws and seeks to block absentee ballot deadlines.  

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State issued the following statement:

The Department of State and all county election boards in Pennsylvania are bound by the civilian absentee ballot deadlines set in the PA Election Code. That is why the Wolf administration earlier this year proposed a series of reforms to make voting more convenient, including modernizing absentee voting and the deadline.
 
Mississippi and Louisiana allows ballots to be returned up to the day before election day.  

To view the complaint click here: