Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar

No. 407-MD-2020 | Closed

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party and Democratic candidates for state and federal positions filed suit against Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the 67 county boards of election.  They claimed that  Act 77, passed in late 2019,  provided universal no-excuse vote-by-mail options for registered voters but that Covid-19 would cause unpredictable constraints for in-person voting that were not fully addressed in the law.  In other words, many more people would want to vote by mail rather than in person on Election Day, likely causing an administrative challenge for boards of election that were not prepared for the increase in mail-in ballots.

In reality, Act 77 was very clear about how to conduct the vote-by-mail process, but Plaintiffs argued that certain defects in ballot validation, the lack of secrecy envelopes, and the receipt of ballots after the 8 PM close of the election should not warrant disqualification of otherwise legal ballots.  They asked the court to declare that certain rules within Act 77 were not mandatory, essentially asking the court to rewrite the law and allow for departures from certain safeguards to reduce the number of ballots that would be disqualified for not complying with Act 77.

Rather than ensuring that voters fully understood how to successfully complete a mail-in ballot in compliance with established safeguards, Plaintiffs sought to lower the standards. Many of the election requirements that Plaintiffs tried to eliminate or modify are the same ones that the Trump Campaign sought to enforce in District Court after the chaotic June Primary Election (Trump for President v. Kathy Boockvar, No. 2:20-cv-00966 (W.D. Pa.)).  It is primarily this pair of cases that have defined the General Election litigation in Pennsylvania.

Case Details


Filing Date


Original Court

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Current Court

Pennsylvania Supreme Court