PHILADELPHIA — From Constance Powers’ perspective, the help from a Montgomery County election worker was nothing more than a good deed.
After Powers made a clerical error on her mail ballot, the worker let her know and told her she could go to the county seat in Norristown and fix it. Her mistake was failing to fill out her address on the envelope. Powers, 59, went there, fixed the error, and returned to her home in Bryn Mawr. She said she voted for Joe Biden.
Now the Republican Party has filed lawsuits to get her vote killed.
“I’ll be furious if that gets that ballot uncounted,” Powers said. “I went through a lot of trouble.”
In suits filed in federal and state courts, the GOP is arguing that it was unfair that voters in some counties were warned about glitches in their mail ballots and given the opportunity to correct them. The legal action in the state’s Commonwealth Court targets the issue statewide, while the federal one questions those “cured” mail ballots in Montgomery County.
Montgomery County elections officials said Thursday that only 98 voters took them up on offers to correct ballot errors, which included missing signatures or secrecy envelopes for their ballots. That’s out of a total of more than 400,000 votes cast in the country.
Republican lawyers in the federal suit attached to their court filing a partial list of voters who had corrected their ballots.
If the federal suit is successful, it might backfire on Republican President Donald Trump. At least one of those voters whose ballot was questioned said she had cast it for Trump. She wasn’t happy about the suit, either.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Souderton resident Eunice Camasso.
Camasso, a registered Republican, said she received an email alerting her to a problem with her ballot. She said she had signed her name, but had forgotten to print it. She may also have put the date where her name was supposed to go.
So she went to Norristown last week and amended it. “The process was easy,” Camasso said. “I corrected the mistake and the next day it was noted online that it had been accepted.”
Camasso said she had not realized that GOP lawyers were now trying to have her ballot thrown out. She wants her vote to count.
The lawsuit before Commonwealth Court appears to be moving swiftly. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Friday morning in Harrisburg.
In interviews, election officials across the state provided varying accounts of their procedures. Some said they leave deficient ballots alone. Other have election staffers reach out to voters. Others provide lists of flawed ballots to the political parties and let them contact voters if they wish. Montgomery Council officials did both, contacting voters themselves and providing a list to partisans.
As it happened, the list of voters with flawed ballots attached to the federal lawsuit included a magisterial district judge in Montgomery County, Deborah A. Lukens, a registered Democrat who sits in Lafayette Hill. She was able to fix her mail ballot issue. When contacted by a reporter, Lukens said she was aware of the court case, but declined to comment because of her position.
Another voter on the list, a 58-year-old health-care professional who lives in Conshohocken, said that she, too, had failed to write her address on the envelope.
She had thought, wrongly, that she hadn’t needed to because there was already a preprinted address label there. It was “an easy mistake,” said the woman, who asked not to be named because of the divisiveness of the election. “It was a little confusing.”
“I think it’s unfair,” she said of the suit.
Naila Ozdamar, a registered independent voter from King of Prussia, said she had forgotten to sign and date the back of the outer envelope of her ballot, but then corrected it. “It should count,” she said of her vote.
Melissa, a Biden supporter from Blue Bell who asked to be identified only by her first name, was also troubled that her vote has been called into question.
She said she received an email from the election office informing her that she left her address incomplete. She fixed the problem.
“It is absolutely absurd,” she said. “You would think they would want voters’ voices to be heard. I think it’s just an effort to quiet the voters and control what the results of the election will be.”
(Jeremy Roebuck, Maddie Hanna and Angela Couloumbis contributed to this article.)
©2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer