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Court Allows Voters and Groups to Intervene in Lawsuit

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Several other states allow voters to cast mail-in ballots in secure dropboxes. (Steve Cukrov/Adobe Stock)
Several other states allow voters to cast mail-in ballots in secure dropboxes. (Steve Cukrov/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA - Producer, Contact
August 6, 2020

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- A federal court in Pittsburgh has ruled voting-rights advocacy groups and voters themselves can intervene in a lawsuit challenging a key Pennsylvania election practice.

The lawsuit, filed by the Trump presidential campaign against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, claims "unmonitored mail-in voting," including the use of secure dropboxes for submitting mail-in ballots, jeopardizes election security.

Andy Hoover, director of communications for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said by allowing three nonpartisan organizations and three individual voters to intervene in the suit, the court is giving them a seat at the table to respond to those claims.

"Our clients are doing this in the interest of voters," Hoover said. "They want to protect the right to vote for all Pennsylvanians regardless of their political affiliation."

Those joining the suit are the Pennsylvania chapters of the NAACP, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, and three voters from Allegheny County.

The Trump campaign insists non-disabled voters must either mail their ballots or hand deliver them to county boards of elections. Hoover said postal delays and the need to socially distance make secure dropboxes a necessity.

"Voting is a fundamental right," Hoover said. "Everyone should be participating, and in the midst of a pandemic we have to make sure it is easy for folks to submit their ballots."

He said many voters in the June primary didn't receive ballots in time to mail them back by the deadline, and they shouldn't have to choose between their health and their right to vote.

Hoover noted most states allow any qualified voter to ask for an absentee ballot, and four states conduct their elections with 100% mail-in ballots.

"In fact, those states show voter participation tends to be higher as voters are able to submit their ballots in very convenient ways. So, vote by mail has been shown to be a safe and secure form of voting."

He said research has shown that voter fraud with mail-in voting is virtually nonexistent. The Trump campaign is actively encouraging mail-in voting in Florida.

Disclosure: ACLU of Pennsylvania contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Immigrant Issues, LGBTQIA Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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