Federal judge skeptical about GOP lawsuit to throw out ‘naked’ absentee ballots in Pennsylvania

Federal judge skeptical about GOP lawsuit to throw out ‘naked’ absentee ballots in Pennsylvania
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On Wednesday morning, November 4 at a hearing in Philadelphia, a federal judge expressed skepticism over a lawsuit by Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette — who argued that voters should not have a chance to fix or "cure" problems with so-called "naked" absentee voter ballots in Pennsylvania.

At the hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Savage — according to Politico reporters Katherine Landergan and Josh Gerstein — "said he was dubious of arguments from a lawyer for GOP congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, who argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had concluded that the law prohibits counties from allowing voters who erred in completing or packaging their mail-in ballots to correct those mistakes."

Savage, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said, "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?"

But Thomas Breth, an attorney representing Barnette in the lawsuit, argued, "this isn't disenfranchising voters. They can't do this unless the election code provides them the authority to do this."

Savage, however, was unconvinced that a voter shouldn't have a chance to fix a miscast absentee ballot or cast a provisional ballot. The judge told Breth, "it counts as your vote, but your vote is not counted."

Barnette's lawsuit deals with a practice in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in the Philadelphia suburbs that allows voters to fix "naked ballots."

Barnette is a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District.

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