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Civil Rights Groups Challenge Mail Vote Suit

Groups are challenging a lawsuit that seeks to stop voters from using secure drop boxes to cast their ballots. (Claudia Wizner/Adobe Stock)
Groups are challenging a lawsuit that seeks to stop voters from using secure drop boxes to cast their ballots. (Claudia Wizner/Adobe Stock)
July 20, 2020

PHILADELPHIA - Civil rights groups are calling a Trump campaign lawsuit over mail-in ballots an attempt to suppress voting and they're challenging that lawsuit in court.

The Trump campaign lawsuit seeks to make it more difficult for Pennsylvanians to vote by mail and to have those votes counted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A number of civil rights and voting rights organizations have taken legal action to intervene as defendants in that suit.

Ben Geffen, a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia, notes more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians used mail-in ballots in the June primary, and record numbers are likely to do so for the general election in November.

"Voting by mail makes it easier to vote and it does not open the door to widespread fraud of the sort that the plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege," he states.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. On Friday the judge set hearings in the case for Sept. 22 and 23.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit want to stop voters from depositing their absentee ballots in secure drop boxes instead of mailboxes.

But Geffen says the drop boxes were needed because the pandemic forced many primary polling places to close.

"This was a lawful and appropriate response to a dramatic situation and there's every indication that there will be similar problems in November and that the solution of drop boxes will again be necessary," he stresses.

Geffen adds that counties need to begin making preparations for the November election now.

He says there is a high degree of inconsistency on the part of those who filed the lawsuit, including Republican members of Congress from Pennsylvania.

"The president of the United States himself voted by mail in the most recent election in his new home state of Florida," Geffen points out. "Two of the plaintiffs in this very lawsuit voted by mail in last month's primary in Pennsylvania."

Organizations intervening in the lawsuit include the Pennsylvania NAACP, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Pennsylvania.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA