One month later, Lehigh County judge race still up in air over uncounted mail-in ballots

Written by on December 2, 2021

One month later, Lehigh County judge race still up in air over uncounted mail-in ballots

By Tyler Pratt
December 1, 2021

It’s been a month since the November municipal election, and Lehigh County voters are still waiting for the official results.

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A total of 261 mail-in ballots are at the center of a legal battle making its way through Pennsylvania courts. The decision of whether or not to count them could have far-reaching implications.

Republican judicial candidate David Ritter recently filed an appeal to exclude the ballots because they didn’t have a date on the outer envelope. He’s running for a seat on Lehigh County Court and has a narrow lead of 74 votes over Democrat Zachary Cohen. Those uncounted votes could change that.

Ritter argued a 2020 state Supreme Court mail-in voting decision disqualifies the ballots, because several of those justices agreed: missing dates shouldn’t be overlooked in future elections. 

This week a Lehigh County judge disputed that, ruling against Ritter by saying just because voters made a mistake doesn’t mean they should be disenfranchised.

Cohen’s attorney Adam Bonin said Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Edward Reibman was a win for those voters.

“They registered to vote, they applied to vote by mail on-time, they returned their ballots on-time, they signed their ballots,” Bonin said. “Those are the essentials and there is no meaningful reason why their vote shouldn’t count.” 

Ritter has filed an appeal of Reibman’s ruling and the matter is slated to go before Commonwealth Court next week.

Ritter’s attorney couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. 

The election results remain uncertified. The Lehigh County Election Board decided to wait to make the results official until all appeals have been resolved.

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