Cases February 1, 2023

Chapman v. Berks County Board of Elections – Refusal to Certify (PA)

Issue Areas

As they certified results from the May 2022 primary election, some Pennsylvania county election boards refused to include absentee and mail-in ballots that were valid and returned on time but that were not hand-dated by the voter on the outer envelope. This was contrary to rulings from federal and state courts concluding that the law requires such votes to be counted.  

On July 11, Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman and the Pennsylvania Department of State asked the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to order the Berks, Fayette, and Lancaster County Boards of Elections to include these ballots in their certified results. The acting secretary and the Department of State argued that the boards, by failing to count all legally cast votes, had disenfranchised voters and prevented the acting secretary from certifying accurate statewide results. 

States United served as pro bono counsel to Acting Secretary Chapman and the DOS and was co-counsel with Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. 

Latest Update

On Aug. 19, Commonwealth Court President Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer issued an opinion granting the Acting Secretary’s and the DOS’s request for injunctive and declaratory relief and ordered the three counties to include the ballots in question in their certified results. The counties complied on Aug. 24.   

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