Justices allow counting of mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania
Washington – The Supreme Court is allowing elections officials to count mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania that lack a handwritten date but were received in time.
The unsigned order Thursday applies to a Lehigh County judicial election from 2021. But Justice Samuel Alito warned in a dissent that the issue could affect the November elections.
Last week, Alito had imposed a temporary hold on counting the ballots to give the justices more time to consider the matter. At the time, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick was locked in a tight contest with celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
McCormick wanted ballots lacking handwritten dates counted in his race too, but he has since conceded to Oz.
The state law requires voters to write a date on the envelope in which they mail in their ballots. However, the handwritten date is not used to determine whether the ballot was cast on time, since the envelope is postmarked by the post office and timestamped by counties when they receive it.
In any case, counties have acknowledged accepting ballots with wrong dates.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia had ruled that the state election law’s requirement of a date next to the voter’s signature on the outside of return envelopes was “immaterial” and no reason to throw out such ballots.
Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, wrote that he thinks the 3rd Circuit was “very likely wrong.”