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Pennsylvania sues county election boards over refusal to certify primary results

Officials asked a state court to compel three counties to certify results of the state's May 17 primary in a dispute stemming from undated mail-in ballots.
Election workers perform a recount of ballots
Election workers recount primary ballots at the Allegheny County Election Division warehouse in Pittsburgh on June 1.Gene J. Puskar / AP file

Pennsylvania officials sued elections boards in three counties Tuesday over their refusal to certify results from the state's May 17 primary in the latest sign of brewing legal battles heading into the November midterm elections.

The Pennsylvania State Department and acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman, a Democrat, asked a state court to compel the counties to certify their primary results in a dispute that has centered on undated mail-in ballots.

“Three boards of elections refuse to execute their mandatory duty to certify the results of the 2022 primary election based on a full and accurate count of every lawfully cast vote,” state officials wrote in their lawsuit.

In a 21-page filing, officials asked the Commonwealth Court in Pennsylvania to order the elections boards in Berks, Fayette and Lancaster counties to certify results to include absentee and mail-in ballots cast by qualified voters without handwritten dates to avoid further "delaying resolution of the 2022 primary election."

The Berks County Board of Elections declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. NBC News has reached out to representatives in the other two counties for comment.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month cleared the way for elections officials in Pennsylvania to count mail-in ballots from voters who failed to fill in the date on their ballot envelopes.

A similar standoff in New Mexico involves GOP commissioners in Otero County who refused to certify primary results, citing unfounded concerns about voting machines. The county uses voting machines made by Dominion, according to The Associated Press, which former President Donald Trump spread baseless theories about to push his claims of a stolen election in 2020. The commissioners eventually certified the results after a state Supreme Court order.

All but three of Pennsylvania's 67 boards of election provided the certified returns requested by the state, according to Tuesday's lawsuit. Berks, Fayette and Lancaster counties "still refuse to include those ballots in their certification" in violation of the state's election code, the lawsuit states, referring to undated mail-in ballots.

Trump, who narrowly lost Pennsylvania to President Joe Biden in 2020, has made repeated false claims about voting by mail.