Federal Judge Timothy Savage has denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to invalidate votes from Pennsylvanians who had fixed problems with their ballots and resubmitted their votes after their initial absentee ballot submission. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania — which is the locale that was targeted by the lawsuit — is not alone in allowing voters the chance to fix problems with their absentee ballots, and the option has been in place in the county for years. Nevertheless, local Republican Congressional candidate Kathy Barnette seemingly tried to twist a state Supreme Court conclusion that there was no mandatory requirement for allowing voters the chance to fix ballots into an outright prohibition on the practice.
🚨⚖️BREAKING: Fed judge in PENNSYLVANIA denies GOP effort to toss ballots that initially contained errors that were later corrected (or "cured") pic.twitter.com/Hxo1sbSknY
— John Kruzel (@johnkruzel) November 6, 2020
No matter if the ballots that Barnette was targeting were thrown out, the status of the Pennsylvania races that could be affected would likely stay about the same. Montgomery County Chief Operating Officer Lee Soltysiak estimates that there are 93 ballots that were cast by voters in his county who’d been given the opportunity to “cure” their ballots, meaning fix the issues with their submission. These ballots, he indicated, are stored in a locked cabinet and are under 24-hour surveillance. At least on the state level, the margin separating the presidential candidates is pretty substantial, with Biden in the lead by tens of thousands and counting — a lot more than 93.
Based on the text of Savage’s order, Barnette’s side may have withdrawn their request for a temporary restraining order against the processing of the corrected Pennsylvania votes at some recent point. Nevertheless, the judge unequivocally denied the Republican request anyway. Savage never seemed very receptive to the arguments from Barnette’s legal representation.
In response to an argument that the state Supreme Court had already effectively banned allowing Pennsylvanians to fix their votes, Savage commented as follows:
‘I’m not sure about that. Is that exactly what was said or is what was said was that there is no mandatory requirement that the election board do that?.. Wasn’t the legislative intent of the statute we are talking about to franchise, not disenfranchise, voters?’
As Savage pointed out, according to the Republican argument, a ballot with an error “counts as your vote, but your vote is not counted.” Voters get the mistake-affected ballots held against them, the Republican argument claimed, but they don’t get a chance to submit a properly completed ballot, as if the Republicans imagined voting as some kind of one-shot opportunity rather than a U.S. right. Donald Trump’s own team has, separately, been fighting against ballot-counting procedures in Pennsylvania, but the GOP has yet to find some kind of systematically solid supporting ground for their cases.