Reports: Federal judge to hear suit alleging Pennsylvania county illegally pre-canvassed some ballots

Pundits’ predictions that the most important results of the 2020 election would be determined through countless rounds of litigation seem to be coming true, starting in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania.

According to Fox News, a legal challenge was filed on Tuesday alleging that the Montgomery County Board of Elections broke Pennsylvania state law by allowing officials to pre-canvass mail-in ballots before Nov. 3. The issue is apparently serious enough that a federal judge has instructed the county’s election board to cease the practice of contacting voters whose ballots may not have been properly filled out until further notice.

A hearing on the matter is slated for Wednesday, Fox reports.

Republican files suit

According to Fox, “[p]re-canvassing includes sorting, verification, and other processes that precede actually counting the vote. It would allow the identification of ballots that were incorrectly submitted,” the network noted.

In the state of Pennsylvania, the practice is not allowed until the morning of Election Day. But according to the suit, filed by Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, that’s exactly what happened in Montgomery County.

“Court documents alleged that county election officials had been contacting voters whose ballots didn’t meet the state requirements to be counted, offering them a chance to come down and properly cast their vote,” the Bucks County Courier Times reported.

Early reports suggested the number of ballots that were pre-canvassed could have been in the thousands. However, the county eventually determined that only 49 ballots were in question, according to the Courier Times.

The Courier Times noted that Barnette and her lawyers say the pre-canvassing gave some voters an “unfair advantage” over those from “other counties that were not contacting voters about similar problems.”

Barnette added that she believes poll watchers were not allowed to properly view the pre-canvassing process, calling the situation “felonious foolishness and dishonesty,” in a Facebook post, as Fox News reported.

Lawsuit faces pushback

But Barnette’s suit isn’t being filed without pushback. According to the Bucks County Courier Times, Kelly Cofrancisco, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, has made clear that she believes it was well within the legal rights of the board to pre-canvass the ballots when they did.

“We believe our process is sound and permissible under the election code,” Cofrancisco said. Of course, only time will tell how the federal court rules on the matter.

In the aftermath of the Nov. 3 election, one thing is for certain, however: There are a countless number of lawyers who are currently licking their chops at the prospect of weeks and perhaps even months of expensive lawsuits.

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