NORRISTOWN, PA—The Montgomery County Board of Elections today approved a policy that allows for mail-in and absentee ballots with an incorrect or missing year, but otherwise includes a date with a month and day within the time period that mail-in and absentee ballots were able to be returned in the election, to be included in the canvass of the ballots.
“The right to vote is a hard-won right that is fundamental to our democracy. Votes shouldn't be thrown out over minor technicalities that reflect common human mistakes like dating the wrong year,” said Neil Makhija, Montgomery County Commissioner and Chair of the Board of Elections. “We know that these voters are eligible and registered, and in Montgomery County, we are committed to protecting their right to vote. Without a clear ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on the issue, we are advancing this measure to affirm these voters’ rights.”
The policy will apply to the 75 mail-in and absentee ballots cast during the special election in North Penn School District, which was held on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, that had a missing year or the year written as “2023.” The ballots were distributed by Montgomery County’s Office of Voters Services three weeks before the election, as is standard, and were timestamped upon their arrival at the Voters Services warehouse.
This special election for voters in the North Penn School District was the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s first election of 2024. A total of 18,656 ballots were cast. The referendum, regarding whether 9th graders should move to the North Penn High School campus, had 7,855 voters cast their response as “yes” and 10,801 as “no,” with a difference of nearly 3,000 votes.
“Every January, it can take some time to adjust our muscle memory from the old year into the new year,” said Jamila H. Winder, Montgomery County Commissioner and Vice Chair of the Board of Elections. “This policy is a common-sense approach to ensuring that every eligible voter’s choice is counted, protecting those votes from being thrown out for a simple mistake that we all have made at one point in our lives.”
The policy passed 2 to 1 by the Montgomery County Board of Elections, which is responsible for administering the election in Montgomery County. The Board works closely with Montgomery County’s Office of Voters Services and Director of Elections to ensure their responsibilities are carried out in accordance with the law and the Pennsylvania Election Code. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on the specific issue of mail-in ballots marked with an incorrect year.
Neil Makhija, Montgomery County Commissioner and Chair of the Board of Elections, is available for brief media interviews. Please contact Megan Alt at email@example.com to request an interview.
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