This is very sobering, especially considering what a battleground Pennsylvania was and how narrow so many of the races there were. The Associated Press is reporting that 16K ballots were disqualified in the last election, most of them by Democrats, because of minor errors with the envelope. Either the secrecy envelope wasn’t enclosed, or a wrong date or no date had been posted.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled a week before the November election that mail-in votes may not count if they are “contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes.” Ballots without properly dated envelopes have been the topic of litigation since mail-in voting was greatly expanded in Pennsylvania under a 2019 state law.

The justices had split 3-3 on whether making the envelope dates mandatory under state law would violate provisions of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that immaterial errors or omissions should not be used to prevent voting. The tie meant the date mandate has remained in place. The court has yet to issue a written opinion laying out its reasoning and explaining why it ordered county officials to “segregate and preserve” the canceled ballots.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, the governor signed changes into law and these are the highlights. 

  • Ohioans will have to show photo ID to vote on Election Day
  • Voters can no longer use utility bills, other documents to vote
  • Mail-in ballots must arrive within 4 days from Election Day instead of 10
  • Each Ohio county can have only one drob box for ballots
  • Requires voters who want to vote by mail to submit an application at least seven days before Election Day, instead of three.
  • Eliminates in-person voting the Monday before Election Day and reallocates those hours to another time.
  • Gives provisional voters until four days after the election to provide missing information to election officials, instead of seven days.
  • Give boards of elections until eight days after the election to determine whether provisional ballots can be counted.
  • Eliminates most special elections in August unless the county, municipality or school district is under a fiscal emergency.
  • Prohibits curbside voting, unless the voter has a disability and is unable to enter their polling place.
  • Allows all 17-year-olds to serve as election officials, not just high school seniors.

The trend is clear. Republicans are committed to making things as difficult as possible to vote. Shaving off time limits and small things like curbside voting could have a meaningful outcome. Remember Lauren Boebert won by 500 votes. It is a very real issue that in addition to getting out the vote, the ballots must be protected.

This is a horn we all need to be leaning on as the 2024 election draws near. Videos, instruction sheets, anything we can do to make sure voters are doing it right and getting the ballots in on time are crucial.

This is literally the bright red line. We have to make things work at this level. If we fail at this level, all the other efforts are for naught.


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