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Elections Board hears update on litigation

County officials continue to take a conservative approach to multiple lawsuits regarding the upcoming presidential election.

Solicitor Nathaniel Schmidt updated the Board of Elections during a Wednesday meeting.

District Judge Nicholas Ranjan left the door open for a federal case to move ahead if a state court — Commonwealth Court — didn’t address the issues by Oct. 5.

Schmidt said the Trump campaign filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction in federal court that would have required the county Boards of Elections to keep separate any ballots collected via drop boxes and “naked ballots” that were not placed in a secrecy envelope.

He said Ranjan denied that request for relief.

In the Commonwealth Court case, Schmidt explained that a request was made by some Democratic officials for the Supreme Court to hear the case.

“Everyone is anticipating that the Pa. Supreme Court… will act timely to make rulings on these issues,” he said, explaining that the Trump campaign’s request to intervene in the state case was denied.

He said he wouldn’t be surprised to see, as a result, the campaign appeal to the Third Circuit federal court.

Locally, he said, the county is “awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court.

“The question that remains outstanding (is) whether or not to use drop boxes (and) whether or not to count naked ballots,” he added. “Our Board of Elections doesn’t have to commit to a certain path.”

He said he would “shy away” from the use of a drop box — one was located inside the Fifth Ave. entrance to the courthouse for the primary — because they’re not expressly permitted in the code.

That would, he explained, allow the county to avoid any further discovery requests, a conservative approach in light of the pending litigation.

Elections Director Lisa Rivett said people have been calling and asking for the drop box and she is “really reiterating” to voters that each voter has to bring their own ballot to her office if returning the ballot in person.

Rivett told the board that a litigation issue with a Green Party candidate has precluded the state from issuing a ballot verification, a needed step before the ballots can be distributed.

She said the ballots are scheduled to go out next week if this issue can be cleared up by the Department of State.

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