Voting rights groups fighting court battles over ballot access

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Lawyers and voting rights advocates are busy in Pennsylvania fighting a myriad of court battles that could affect when and how voters cast their ballots. 

With roughly 75 days until Election Day, there are a number of lawsuits sitting in both federal and state court in Pennsylvania focused on election rules, including how, when and where you cast your ballot, as well as how and when ballots are counted.

“These are very unprecedented times," the Rev. Kenneth Huston, president of the Pennsylvania NAACP, said.

The organization is involved in two lawsuits. One, filed by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee in June in Western District Court, accuses the commonwealth of violating election rules and increasing the risk of fraud by allowing ballot drop-off boxes. The lawsuit also challenges the method of counting ballots and county residency requirements for poll watchers.

“The hearing is set for late September. That’s not a lot of time to get hearings, get a ruling and appeals,” Huston said.

Sozi Tulante, the attorney for the NAACP, and a former city solicitor, filed the second lawsuit in state court, alleging reduced poll locations and lack of notice for poll changes led to long lines, disproportionately affecting voters of color.

“Either because their polling places were more likely to close, or because they didn’t rely on the mail," he said.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania is involved in four cases. 

“We have challenges we need to overcome — unlike any we have ever faced — with this pandemic,” Legal Director Vic Walczak said.

Other parties involved in lawsuits in Pennsylvania include the League of Women Voters, the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee and the Department of State.