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A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the Republican National Committee seeking to prevent counties from assisting voters to fix minor technical issues on their mail-in ballots that would prevent them from being counted.
The judge dismissed the case on Thursday saying that county courts, not a state court, would have jurisdiction.
“The lawsuit, filed in the statewide Commonwealth Court, had argued that state law prevents what is known as ballot curing and, as a result, must be barred by the court. But Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler agreed with lawyers for the state’s Democratic administration and ruled that county courts have jurisdiction in the matter, not a state court, because counties have the authority under state law to make rules, regulations, and instructions necessary to run an election,” Fox News reported.
“Ballot curing has been practiced primarily by Democratic-leaning counties in Pennsylvania. It includes notifying voters that they forgot to do things like date or sign their ballot envelope and gives them the opportunity to come into a county office and fix it before polls close,” the outlet added. “The state’s lawyers also argued that no state law bars ballot curing. Lawyers for Democratic Party groups that intervened in the case called it a ‘win for voters.'”
Mail-in voting has been a bone of contention for Republicans as it heavily has favored Democrat candidates.
This month a former county elections commissioner in New York has pleaded guilty to applying for absentee ballots in the names of other registered voters.
“Jason Schofield, age 43, of Troy, New York, pled guilty today to unlawfully using the names and dates of birth of voters to fraudulently apply for absentee ballots for elections held in Rensselaer County in 2021. The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Schofield was an Elections Commissioner at the Rensselaer County Board of Elections (“RCBOE”) until late last month, when he resigned in anticipation of today’s guilty plea,” JD Supra reported.
“In pleading guilty to a 12-count indictment, Schofield admitted that in 2021, he unlawfully possessed and used the names and dates of birth of voters in connection with 12 absentee ballot applications he electronically submitted in the voters’ names to the New York State Voter Absentee Ballot Application Request Portal. Schofield admitted that for each application, he falsely certified that he was the voter requesting the ballot. He also admitted that he took personal possession of 9 of these ballots, while knowing and intending that RCBOE records would falsely reflect that the ballots had been mailed to the voters,” the outlet added.
“Sentencing is scheduled for May 12, 2023, before United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino. On each count, Schofield faces up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors. Schofield’s plea agreement required that he immediately resign from the RCBOE,” the outlet continued.
Earlier this year, the FBI arrested Schofield over allegations of an absentee ballot fraud scheme and he was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart.
He was charged with unlawfully using the names and dates of birth of voters to fraudulently apply for absentee ballots for elections held in Rensselaer County in 2021.
Schofield, a Republican, was released on his own recognizance until his trial scheduled before U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino.
“He is accused of unlawfully possessing and using the names and dates of birth of voters in connection with absentee ballot applications that he submitted to a New York State Board of Elections website in 2021. The indictment alleges that Schofield applied for absentee ballots in the names of people who had no interest in voting in 2021 and did not request absentee ballots or Schofield’s assistance in voting or obtaining absentee ballots,” Fox News reported.
“In some of these instances, the indictment explained, Schofield also took possession of the absentee ballots issued to these voters, brought them to voters, and had them sign absentee ballot envelopes without actually voting. This allegedly allowed Schofield or another person to cast votes in these voters’ names in Rensselaer County’s 2021 primary and general elections,” the outlet added.
“If convicted, Schofield would face up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years on each of the 12 counts,” the report continued.