A petition over 670 flawed mail-in ballots filed by a lawyer for two Republican candidates running for Delaware County Council was largely dismissed ahead of Tuesday’s election.
The lawsuit, filed by longtime Republican lawyer Michael Puppio, asked for an emergency hearing over the absentee ballots that Delaware County acknowledged were mailed to the wrong addresses, as well as more than 5,000 ballots that were mailed out late by a vendor.
Common Pleas Court Judge Kelly Eckel dismissed the bulk of the lawsuit Monday night, ruling that the board of election will continue to oversee Tuesday’s election after putting safeguards in place and correcting the ballot issues. The judge will allow two watchers — one from each political party — to monitor the mail-in ballots in Delaware County for any irregularities.
The 670 ballots in question were mailed to addresses that did not match the voter information on the ballot inside. The county said it has taken steps to identify those ballots and send new ones to the voters who received them.
Delaware County Solicitor Bill Martin criticized Republicans for attempting to wrestle control of the election out of the hands of the county board of elections over an issue he said had already been “appropriately remedied.”
”It was unfortunate that Delaware County Republicans expended significant County resources, and distracted staff from preparing for the election, with this unneeded “emergency” weekend legal process,” Martin said in a statement. “It is of a recent pattern where the party seeks to drive elections into the courts, instead of seeking to fairly compete at the ballot box.”
Puppio told the Inquirer he was happy with the outcome, noting that the judge and said the only reason he filed the petition was he thought the county wasn’t communicating the issue about the 3rd party vendor clearly enough to the public.
“I am pleased with the outcome. We had a good judge, it was a professional procedure, and a fair ruling,” Puppio said. “A few concerns, but fair.”
County Council is the biggest local race in Delaware County on Tuesday.