'My voice will not be silenced': Philly voters scramble to cast replacement mail ballots after court ruling

'My voice will not be silenced': Philly voters scramble to cast replacement mail ballots after court ruling
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In a November 1 ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with a Republican National Committee (RNC) lawsuit to disqualify mail-in ballots if the voter had failed to put a date on the outer envelope. As a result, the Washington Post reports, voters in “Philadelphia and other parts of this battleground state” have “scrambled to cast replacements so their votes will be counted on Election Day.”

At Philadelphia City Hall, voters were waiting in line for two hours on Monday, November 7 — the day before the 2022 midterms elections — to submit replacement ballots. Kirby Smith and his wife, Suria Nordin, according to Post reporters Emma Brown and Amy Gardner, were among the Philly voters willing to stand in line for hours in order to make sure their votes would be counted.

Smith, a 59-year-old Democrat, told the Post, “Oh I’m going to vote. It’s not a question. I’m going to fight back.”

READ MORE: Oprah Winfrey endorses John Fetterman over Dr. Oz: 'Welcome to #TeamFetterman'

Smith, who is Black, added that he considers the RNC lawsuit a form of voter suppression. Brown and Gardner note that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling is a departure from the “multiple judges” who “have ruled, over the past two years, that mail ballots returned on time by eligible Pennsylvania voters should be counted even if they lack a date on the outer envelope.”

“Republicans sued in October to reverse that policy, arguing that it violated state law,” Brown and Gardner note. “Last Tuesday, they won a favorable ruling from the (Pennsylvania) State Supreme Court, which directed counties not to count ballots with missing or inaccurate dates. That decision triggered a sprawling volunteer-run effort to make sure voters who had already returned their ballots knew that their votes would not count if they didn’t take action.”

The reporters add, “Nowhere has that effort been more intense than in Philadelphia. On Saturday, (November 5), city officials published the names of more than 2000 voters who had returned defective ballots and urged them to come to City Hall to cast a new ballot in the few days remaining before Election Day. Community activists and volunteers for the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party began calling, texting and knocking on people’s doors to get the word out.”

Another Philadelphia voter, Melissa Sherwood — a 25-year-old Democrat who works from home — told the Post that she was willing to wait in a long line to cast a replacement ballot but fears that others couldn’t do so because it would mean taking time off from work.

READ MORE: Trump is 'very, very stressed out' watching Ron DeSantis romp to re-election victory: Maggie Haberman

Sherwood told the Post, “I’m lucky. I could wait in line and do this. Some people who don’t have that luxury probably took one look at the line and said no way.”

According to Brown and Gardner, 40-year-old Philadelphia voter Penina Bernstein was in Colorado when she learned that her vote wouldn’t be counted because of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling — and she made an early return to Philly at “significant expense” to recast her ballot.

Bernstein told the Post, “I am flying home tonight, and I will be there to fix it tomorrow, because my voice will not be silenced by voter suppression.”

Matea Gold, a Post editor, heard about Bernstein having to prematurely return to Philly from Colorado in order to recast her ballot and commented, in a November 7 tweet, “some Pennsylvania voters are making extraordinary efforts to fix mail ballots that were invalidated after GOP lawsuit.” And Emily C. Singer, a reporter for the American Independent, tweeted, “It's horrible that this woman had to do this.”

Pennsylvania is among the swing states that reporters will be paying very close attention to on Election Night, November 8, especially its U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races. In the Keystone State, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Donald Trump-supported Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz are competing for the U.S. Senate seat that is presently occupied by arch-conservative Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (who is retiring) and was, for many years, occupied by the late Sen. Arlen Specter.

Polls are showing that race to be incredibly close, with Fetterman slightly ahead in some early November polls and Oz slightly ahead in others. And if a lot of a lot of mail-in ballots are disqualified in Philly, that’s bad news for Democrats — as Philly is an overwhelmingly Democratic, densely populated city in a state that is much more GOP-friendly in other places. Philly is so blue that it hasn’t had a Republican mayor since the early 1950s; Central Pennsylvania was famously compared to Alabama by Democratic strategist James Carville.

Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race finds Democratic State Attorney General Josh Shapiro competing with State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a far-right MAGA Republican, conspiracy theorist, Christian nationalist and QAnon ally who falsely claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump in his state. In fact, recount after recount confirmed that President Joe Biden’s victory in the Keystone State was perfectly legitimate.

READ MORE: Doug Mastriano’s Facebook account is an 'active administrator' for a 'xenophobic, antisemitic' group: report

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