Johnstown federal judge denies request for ballot-counting injunction

By Mark Pesto
The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown)

JOHNSTOWN – A Johnstown federal judge has denied a request for an injunction that would prevent county election officials in Pennsylvania from counting some mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day.

U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson ruled late Wednesday that, while plaintiffs in the case Bognet v. Boockvar did show “arbitrary treatment of different voters based simply on their method of voting” in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision that mail-in ballots received after Election Day with no legible postmark should be presumed to have been cast legally, granting their requested injunction would create confusion among voters with just days to go before Election Day and thus would not be in the public interest.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys filed notice Thursday that they plan to appeal the ruling to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Sept. 17 that mail-in ballots can be counted if they are postmarked before the time polls close on Nov. 3 and are received by county election boards by 5 p.m. Nov. 6. The court also allowed counting of ballots without a clear postmark unless there was evidence that they were mailed after the polls closed. The U.S. Supreme Court considered the issue and was split 4-4, resulting in the state court’s decision being upheld.

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