HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) — President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee sued Pennsylvania on Monday over absentee ballot drop-off sites, escalating their fight against mail-in voting as the November election nears.
The president’s campaign and the RNC were joined by four Pennsylvania Republican congressmen — Glenn Thompson, Mike Kelly, John Joyce and Guy Reschenthaler — in filing the 57-page federal lawsuit in the Western District of Pennsylvania against the elections boards of all 67 counties in the state.
“Free and fair elections are essential to the right of Americans to choose through their vote whom they elect to represent them,” the complaint states. “Upending our entire election process and undermining ballot security through unmonitored by-mail voting is the single greatest threat to free and fair elections.”
The complaint asks a federal judge to block counties from counting absentee ballots unless they are mailed by voters to their county election office or dropped off in person rather than at the drop-off sites. It was filed by attorneys with the law firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur in Pittsburgh.
The Republicans allege some counties broke state law by setting up unmonitored and unsecured ballot drop boxes for the June 2 primary and that they failed to ensure these ballots would not be subject to manipulation.
“Contrary to the direction of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, defendants have sacrificed the sanctity of in-person voting at the altar of unmonitored mail-in voting and have exponentially enhanced the threat that fraudulent or otherwise ineligible ballots will be cast and counted in the upcoming general election,” the lawsuit states, referring to the Nov. 3 presidential election.
The suit also condemns Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s June 1 order that extended the timeframe for mailed ballots to arrive at elections offices in six counties amid an emergency declaration related to protests over the death of George Floyd.
Last year, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed an extension of mail-in ballot options to allow all residents to vote by mail even if they do not have a stated reason to do so. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a surge in demand for absentee ballots in the state.
According to the state elections board, about 1.5 million absentee ballots were returned to elections offices for the delayed primary. A look at unofficial return data shows that Democrats cast mail-in ballots at a higher rate than Republicans in most Pennsylvania counties.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, is listed as a defendant in the case. Neither her office nor Wolf’s could be reached for comment Monday.