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Three mail ballots’ status questioned

WILLIAMSPORT — A decision to count three undated mail ballots from last month’s Primary Election will have to wait until the courts issue a final ruling on whether they can become official. Until then the ballots will be submitted to the Department of State in a completely different report than the rest of the ballots. “We have three undated mail ballots. Two of them are Democratic and one is Republican,” said Forrest Lehman, the county’s director of Voter Services at Monday’s Board of Elections meeting.

“There is a requirement in the state election code where it says that somebody who’s voting by mail they shall fill out, date and sign a voter declaration that’s printed on the back of that official ballot return envelope,” Lehman said. Just after the primary election, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals Federal Court, issued a ruling that this requirement in state law was immaterial in determining the legitimacy of the vote and that it violates the Federal Civil Rights Act, Lehman explained.

Eventually the Supreme Court stepped in and stayed the federal ruling. Recently the Commonwealth Court issued a special injunction to county boards of elections.

“This came out on Friday, and the Commonwealth Court issued this injunction aware of the Supreme Court’s stay, saying we know this has happened. However, they are directing county boards of election to canvass those undated ballots, but separately. You’re not to put them together with the rest of your election results,” he said.

If the courts decide the ballots can be counted they would then be merged into the official results.

The Board of Elections, which is composed of Commissioners Scott Metzger, Tony Mussare and Rick Mirabito, voted that the ballots would not be lumped in with the rest of the ballots but would be opened and set aside until the final ruling.

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