PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The waning hours of Election Day brought little immediate closure to the campaign season in Pennsylvania but produced a quick succession of legal action as Donald Trump and Joe Biden fought tooth-and-nail for the key battleground state. Republicans and a voter outside Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit accusing Montgomery County officials of illegally processing mail-in ballots before Tuesday for the purpose of allowing voters to fix problems with their ballots.
A federal judge in Philadelphia set a hearing for Wednesday morning on the Republican bid to stop the count of 49 ballots that were amended and returned in the suburban county.
The state’s high court has not prohibited counties from allowing voters to fix their ballots, said Kelly Cofrancisco, a county spokesperson.
And in a lawsuit filed Tuesday night in a statewide appellate court, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and five other plaintiffs want to block counties from allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were disqualified to be able to cast a vote by provisional ballot.
The lawsuit said the state Supreme Court has already ruled that state law provides no such avenue for a voter to fix a disqualified vote. In Oct. 21 guidance to counties, state elections officials said a voter whose mail-in or absentee ballot was rejected could still vote in person by a provisional ballot.
It was not immediately clear how many voters had cast such a ballot, or which counties were allowing the practice.
Blair, Berks, Carbon, Clinton, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lycoming and Perry counties have refused to accept that guidance “because it is contravention” of state election law, it said.
The state’s top election official, Kathy Boockvar, insisted that the practice singled out by the lawsuit is legal. Regardless, she said there aren’t “overwhelming” numbers of voters who cast a provisional ballot after their mail-in ballot was disqualified, but she did not give an exact figure.
“So I don’t think this is going to be huge issue no matter which way it goes,” Boockvar said.
The lawsuits came as voting wrapped up on a day when Pennsylvania recorded its highest single-day total of new coronavirus infections.
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