Saturday, August 30, 2014
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NAACP sues to count emergency ballots tonight

Cynthia Henry reports at 6 pm: The NAACP-Philadelphia Branch and its members sued Philadelphia County this afternoon to force election officials to count emergency paper ballots as soon as polls close tonight, instead of waiting until Friday as announced. The case is being heard in Philadelphia’s special Election Court tonight. “The fact that these ballots are being treated differently raises serious constitutional issues,” said John Bonifaz, legal director for Voter Action and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. A coalition of Pennsylvania voters and civil rights groups won a lawsuit last week when federal Judge Harvey S. Bartle III ruled that emergency paper ballots must be made available when 50 percent or more voting machines fail at polling places in Pennsylvania. Bartle said voters could be disenfranchised by having to wait hours in line due to voting machine breakdowns. In directions issued Oct. 31, the state instructed counties to count ballots on election night. “Emergency paper ballots must be treated as regular ballots and must be counted on election night,” Bonifaz said, He had not heard whether any other counties had planned to delay counting the ballots, but if so, the Philadelphia lawsuit “should put them on notice.” Click here for Philly.com's politics page.

NAACP sues to count emergency ballots tonight

Cynthia Henry reports at 6 pm:

The NAACP-Philadelphia Branch and its members sued Philadelphia County this afternoon to force election officials to count emergency paper ballots as soon as polls close tonight, instead of waiting until Friday as announced.

The case is being heard in Philadelphia’s special Election Court tonight.

“The fact that these ballots are being treated differently raises serious constitutional issues,” said John Bonifaz, legal director for Voter Action and co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

A coalition of Pennsylvania voters and civil rights groups won a lawsuit last week when federal Judge Harvey S. Bartle III ruled that emergency paper ballots must be made available when 50 percent or more voting machines fail at polling places in Pennsylvania. Bartle said voters could be disenfranchised by having to wait hours in line due to voting machine breakdowns.

In directions issued Oct. 31, the state instructed counties to count ballots on election night.

“Emergency paper ballots must be treated as regular ballots and must be counted on election night,” Bonifaz said,

He had not heard whether any other counties had planned to delay counting the ballots, but if so, the Philadelphia lawsuit “should put them on notice.”

Click here for Philly.com's politics page.

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Thomas FitzgeraldThomas Fitzgerald joined The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000, and has covered Harrisburg as well as city, state and national politics for the newspaper. He was a “boy on the bus” in the 2004 presidential campaign and during primary contests in 2000 and 1996.

Nathan Gorenstein has covered politics and government in the city, state and nation for the Inquirer. He's worked in the city hall bureau, had a stint on the business desk, and once covered the suburbs. After serving as assistant regional editor, he was named editor of the "Politics" web site.

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