Pennsylvania county under scrutiny as judge weighs in on claims ballots were canvassed early, changed: report

By Brittany De Lea | Fox News

The modified ballots are to be sequestered pending further guidance.

One county in the key swing state of Pennsylvania has already found itself involved in a legal challenge, following claims that it violated the state’s election code by pre-canvassing mail-in ballots prior to Election Day.

A federal judge ruled that Montgomery County Board of Election officials need to stop contacting voters who did not submit their ballots correctly, though it is yet to be determined what will happen to ballots that were opened early and changed, as reported by the Bucks County Courier Times on Tuesday. Ballots that were modified must be kept separate from the rest of the group until further notice.

A hearing on the issue is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

The county has been accused of not only starting the pre-canvassing process early – which is against the law – but also giving voters who did not submit their ballots correctly the opportunity to “re-vote,” according to the complaint. That includes people who may have forgotten to sign or place their ballot in the “secrecy envelope,” which are necessary steps in order for their votes to be counted.

As previously reported by Fox News, counties in the state were prohibited from starting the mail-in ballot counting process until 7 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

Pre-canvassing includes sorting, verification, and other processes that precede actually counting the vote. It would allow the identification of ballots that were incorrectly submitted.

The plaintiff, Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, also claimed that election watchers were not able to properly view the entire process.

In a Facebook post, Barnette referred to the alleged violations as “felonious foolishness and dishonesty.”

Around 3,900 ballots were claimed to be pre-canvassed early. However, only about 49 ballots are said to be in question.

A spokesperson for Montgomery County acknowledged the motion filed by Barnette and said it believes its “process is sound and permissible under the Election Code.”

Pennsylvania, which is expecting a surge of mail-in and absentee ballot volume, is under intense scrutiny as potentially the key state that either presidential candidate needs to win in order to declare victory.

It is one of only a handful of states that did not allow the pre-canvassing process to begin before Election Day.

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