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United Sovereign Americans sues Pennsylvania elections agencies, citing ‘error rates’

A sheet of stickers reading "I voted today."
Matt Slocum
Vote stickers are seen at a satellite election office at Temple University's Liacouras Center, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Philadelphia.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court claims that flaws in Pennsylvania’s voting system led to irregularities in 2022 that have not been addressed by election authorities, posing a risk to voters this fall.

It is the latest in a frenzy of election related lawsuits ahead of the rematch between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. An elections watchdog says the group behind this lawsuit, United Sovereign Americans, is part of an effort to sow distrust in election results.

The Pennsylvania Department of State, which is listed as a defendant in the case, called it “frivolous.”

“The Department has not been served with this lawsuit and has only become aware of it through media requests,” said spokesman Matt Heckel in an email. “A review shows it to be a frivolous action alleging, without any supporting facts or viable legal theories, a panoply of conspiracy claims advanced by litigants who have repeatedly filed baseless actions rejected by the courts. Undeterred, these litigants and their counsel continue to waste taxpayer money. The Department will respond accordingly.”

Department of State Secretary Al Schmidt, Attorney General Michelle Henry, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and several state offices are also named as defendants, along with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Plaintiffs include Ruth Moton, who ran and lost as a Republican candidate for state representative in Delaware County in 2018, 2020 and 2022. Voters Dean Dreibelbis of Delaware County and Diane Houser of Chester County are also listed as plaintiffs. Though not listed as a plaintiff, failed 2022 Republican state Senate candidate Mike Miller of Ephrata is also noted in the suit.

The legal action, called a writ of mandamus, asks the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to require state and federal agencies to address the issue it presents.

The Missouri-based nonprofit United Sovereign Americans is also listed as a plaintiff on the filing. Election legal watchdog Democracy Docket says United Sovereign Americans is “organizing to disrupt the 2024 election with a series of lawsuits aimed at upending the voting process in a handful of states.”

United Sovereign Americans “is complementing its legal strategy with something more insidious and potentially dangerous: building a grassroots movement of volunteers radicalized to believe there’s mass fraud in the elections system, and training them to confront officials on how they administer elections,” Democracy Docket wrote in late May. “In such a charged political climate for election workers, the concern is that [ its ] efforts may contribute to an already heightened risk of political violence in the 2024 election season.”

Bruce Castor Jr., the lawyer who took up the case on behalf of United Sovereign Americans, said that the commonwealth is failing to meet the rules set by Congress.

“Congress set minimum standards for every federal election to be considered reliable,” said Castor. “In Pennsylvania’s 2022 federal election those minimum standards were not met by Commonwealth election officials rendering the certified election results that year unreliable. Respondents have engaged in insufficient efforts to ensure that the unreliable 2022 performance is not repeated in subsequent federal elections beginning in 2024.”

Castor has had a long career in Pennsylvania and has represented everyone from Bill Cosby to Rudy Giuliani. He is a former Montgomery County district attorney and county commissioner who briefly served as acting Pennsylvania attorney general in 2016 after Attorney General Kathleen Kane resigned. Perhaps most notably, Castor defended Trump in 2021 during the former president’s second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.

Central to the lawsuit is the idea that “error rates exceeding those the law permits” occurred in 2022. Those supposed error rates are based on analysis from United Sovereign Americans, the lawsuit states.

“All the numbers came from the Commonwealth. We just did the math,” Castor said, responding to questions by email.

Other parts of the suit rely on details that have been rejected by courts or debunked by reporters.

The suit notes that “a candidate for the Pennsylvania State Senate, Mr. Mike Miller, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, though not a named Petitioner herein, also experienced and fell victim to numerous registration issues in the 2022 election season,” and lists five allegations against Lancaster County. Miller has taken these complaints to the courts.

The lawsuit also cites Audit The Vote Pennsylvania, saying that the group “uncovered overwhelming evidence of registration issues in the 2020 and 2022 elections. The filing cites 10 claims, including assertions that people “voted in a county in which they were no longer living” or “people requested multiple ballots be sent to multiple addresses, with some people requesting additional ballots to be sent to up to four (4) separate Addresses.”

A reporter’s analysis of Audit The Vote PA’s review of mail-in votes cast in Lancaster County in 2020 found it to be “riddled with errors.”

There are already 14 other election-related suits active in Pennsylvania, according to Democracy Docket founder Marc Elias in a recent video. That’s more active suits than any other state. With its “relatively complicated laws around the regulations to vote by mail” and its history as a swing state, that doesn’t surprise him.

“Number one, it is a very close battleground state,” Elias said.

This reporter’s work is funded by the Lancaster County Local Journalism Fund. For more information, or to make a contribution, please visit

Read more from our partners, LNP | LancasterOnline.