Pennsylvania judge renders election law ruling ahead of ’22 midterms

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a state judge has just rejected the Republicans’ attempt, ahead of the midterm elections, to stop the practice of ballot curing. 

Ballot curing is the practice of allowing voters to correct certain errors on their ballots. The way that it typically works is that if local election officials notice an error on a ballot, such as an unsigned ballot, for example, the local officials will contact the voter and offer him or her options to correct it.

This practice of ballot curing became somewhat of an issue in the 2020 elections because of the extensive practice of voting by mail.


In 2020, the Democrats filed a lawsuit attempting to require all of the state’s counties to adopt ballot curing procedures. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, at the time, rejected that lawsuit.

“The decision to provide a notice and opportunity to cure procedure … is one best suited for the Legislature,” the court wrote.

This is what brings us to the current dispute: should ballot curing be allowed? And, if so, who ought to set the rules for ballot curing? Local election officials or the Pennsylvania legislature?

The lawsuit

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has filed a lawsuit attempting to end the current approach in Pennsylvania of allowing local election officials to set the rules for ballot curing.

This practice has resulted in varying ballot curing procedures among Pennsylvania counties. In other words, some counties take one approach, and other countries take another.

The RNC, in the lawsuit, wants to put an end to this and to have the Pennsylvania legislature set the rules for ballot curing. But, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler (D) has now rejected the RNC’s lawsuit.

The decision

In her decision, Ceisler writes:

Such sweeping relief against the 67 County Boards would clearly cause greater injury than refusing the injunction, precisely because it would seriously harm the public interest and orderly administration of the 2022 General Election, which is already well underway. Petitioners have not proven that there is a clear violation of the Election Code or the law interpreting the Election Code.

The Republicans made it clear that they will be appealing Ceisler’s decision.

RNC chair Ronna McDaniel has put out a statement, saying:

Voters in Pittsburgh should have the same election rules as voters in Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania’s Constitution is clear that voting laws should be set by the legislature, not unelected bureaucrats. Allowing some counties to operate differently than others undermines the rule of law. Republicans will continue fighting to ensure that Pennsylvania’s voters are treated equally regardless of where they live.