Voters’ Perspective Must Be Represented in Case Filed by Trump Campaign
UPDATE: Motion to intervene was granted on July 27, 2020.
These groups also filed an amicus brief in Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar on September 8.
PITTSBURGH—Today, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP, Common Cause Pennsylvania, and three individual applicants filed a motion to intervene in Trump v. Boockvar, a case brought by the president’s re-election campaign against secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Kathryn Boockvar, seeking to limit vote-by-mail options in Pennsylvania. The League and its partners seek to intervene on behalf of impacted voters.
“Due to the ongoing global pandemic, voters must have reliable access to vote-by-mail options,” said Terrie Griffin, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania co-president. “As our leaders consider changes to the voting process in Pennsylvania, the League is asking to step in to ensure that the voices and needs of Pennsylvania voters are represented.”
Due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail at highly increased rates in November. Trump v. Boockvar seeks to prevent voters from using ballot drop-off locations other than county election board offices, severely limiting their options for casting mail-in ballots. When adequately placed in communities of high need, ballot drop-off boxes provide voters with a way to hand deliver their mail-in ballots safely. In instances when ballots are delivered close to Election Day, these drop-boxes can be voters’ only opportunity to cast a ballot.
The League has successfully advocated for the establishment of an adequate number of secure ballot drop-off boxes across the country, especially in high density voting areas, especially for communities of color. The League and partners are asking to join this case to preserve voter access by ensuring that adequate drop-box locations are maintained in Pennsylvania.
“Voters at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 must be able to rely on accessible mail-in ballot options in November, including drop-off boxes,” said Dr. Deborah Turner, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “Those who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic—senior voters, voters with disabilities, immunocompromised and chronically ill voters, and voters of color—are the same voters who experience disproportionate obstacles to the ballot. The League is stepping in to ensure that these most vulnerable voters are protected.”
The individual applicants—Pennsylvania residents Danielle Graham Robinson, Patricia M. Demarco, and Kathleen Wise—joined the motion because their ability to vote is threatened by the proposed limitations to voting by mail. The League and partners are represented by Lawyers Committee, ACLU Pennsylvania, WilmerHale, and Public Interest Law Center.
“Our democracy works when all voters can exercise their fundamental right and cast a ballot that counts,” said Kenneth Huston, President of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference. “Accessing the ballot box is particularly challenging for many Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reducing access to the vote-by-mail process risks disenfranchising eligible voters. The NAACP has stood with Pennsylvania voters who seek to vote safely and will continue to do so here.”
“The opportunity for all Pennsylvanians to vote-by-mail proved to be a literal lifeline in this primary. Over 1.5 million Pennsylvanians were able to cast their ballot from home, and drop boxes were a critical part of the vote-by-mail process. Voters cannot be forced to choose between their ability to vote and their health. We will continue to fight so they are never forced to make that choice and to make sure vote-by-mail is not turned into a partisan football,” said Suzanne Almeida, interim executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania.
“Election officials in some counties have tried to make it easier for people to vote in the middle of a pandemic, and the Trump campaign is cynically trying to undercut that effort,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “No matter who people want to vote for, there should be as few hurdles as possible to exercise that right.”
“We will not allow this partisan lawsuit to block Pennsylvania citizens’ access to the ballot box. Elections should be about maximizing voter participation, not about forcing voters to choose between their health and their suffrage,” said Ben Geffen, staff attorney at the Philadelphia-based Public Interest Law Center.
“At a time of a public health crisis, when every reasonable step should be taken to make voting more accessible, the Trump campaign has filed this suit to make it less accessible,” said John Powers, counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voting is not a plaything for politicians. It is a fundamental right. It is the voters’ interests that are paramount. The organizations we represent in this motion to intervene will represent those interests, and only those interests, in this case.”
CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]
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UPDATE: Motion to intervene was granted in Trump v. Murphy, which challenges New Jersey’s plan to mail vote-by-mail ballots automatically to every registered New Jersey voter.