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Lehigh Valley Election News

Judge tosses lawsuit, lets Lehigh County use election drop boxes as planned

Lehigh County 24 hour drop box
Julian Abraham
The 24-hour election drop box slot at the Lehigh County Government Center in Allentown.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A Lehigh County judge has thrown out a lawsuit that sought in-person monitoring and other changes to ballot drop boxes in the county, saying such measures are too difficult and could cause confusion.

Judge Thomas Capehart on Tuesday handed down his opinion on the ongoing suit, which targeted the county Board of Elections. Capehart said the county proved that in-person monitoring of the drop boxes would be too difficult to prepare workers for any changes to drop box procedures for which the county has already prepared could cause confusion for voters this close to Election Day.

  • A judge has ruled against a lawsuit concerning how Lehigh County monitors and operates election drop boxes.
  • Following the ruling, the county will deploy election drop boxes as soon as possible.
  • The ruling found the county had followed state law and taken steps to protect election integrity.

“[The] Board has seen fit to take steps to protect election integrity and comply with Pennsylvania law," Capehart wrote. "In doing so, it has made policy decisions with which the court will not interfere, such as the decision to use drop boxes, not employ manned drop boxes, as well as the decision regarding the location and available times for each drop box.
"Where the law does not clearly dictate, the Court will not second guess the wisdom or efficacy of the Board’s policy decisions.”

Attorneys for the America First Legal Foundation — an advocacy group founded by former officials from the Trump administration who filed the suit — had fought for in-person monitoring of the county’s five drop boxes. That would be beyond 24-hour surveillance cameras already in place.

America First also wanted the county to limit use of a 24-hour drop box, and wanted the sole 24-hour drop box -- located in the Lehigh County Government Center in Allentown -- limited to “normal business hours.”

"We are very happy with the Judge’s decision."
County Executive Phil Armstrong in a statement to LehighValleyNews.com

County Executive Phil Armstrong, in a statement to LehighValleyNews.com, said he was pleased with the decision.

“We are very happy with the Judge’s decision,” Armstrong said. “We have been working very hard at putting out correct voter information.”

District Attorney Jim Martin, who testified during this hearing and had called for in-person monitoring, said in a statement that he respects the judge's opinion.

Martin also had law enforcement officials monitor election drop boxes during last year's primary elections.

Mary Erdman, president of the League of Women Voters of Lehigh County said in a statement that the group is "relieved to see that justice has ruled regarding this ill-timed lawsuit."

She noted voters should be made to feel less confused and more comfortable in using election drop boxes.

"This decision today, makes much more sense than limiting anyone from voting using mail-in ballots, especially as voting has already commenced in Lehigh County," Erdman said in a statement.

The county halted deploying its election drop boxes while awaiting the decision, but Armstrong said it is working to deploy them throughout the county as soon as possible.

Lehigh County will have ballot drop boxes at:

  • Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S. Seventh St., Allentown — a 24-hour drop box outside the entrance.
  • Whitehall Township Building, 3219 MacArthur Road, available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
  • Lehigh County Authority Lobby, 1053 Spruce Road, Allentown, available on from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. weekdays.
  • Fountain Hill Borough Building, 941 Long Street, available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
  • Macungie Borough Building, 21 Locust St., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Ballots also can be delivered in-person to the board of elections at Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S. Seventh St., Allentown, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mail-in ballots also can be sent through the U.S. Postal Service at any mailbox.