US Midterms: Pa. Court Says Misdated Mail-In Ballots Won't Be Counted

General election ballots that are mailed in undated or incorrectly dated envelopes cannot be counted by election boards, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled.

US Midterms: Pa. Court Says Misdated Mail-In Ballots Won't Be Counted
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Facts

  • General election ballots that are mailed in undated or incorrectly dated envelopes cannot be counted by election boards, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled.
  • The decision came after the acting [Democratic] Secretary of State decided that undated ballots would be included in the final count ahead of this month's midterms. According to the court's order, the state's county board of elections will separate and preserve ballots that meet these criteria, rather than count them.
  • Justices on the state's Supreme Court were divided when the issue was raised in 2020, with three ruling that such votes should count and three that they shouldn't. The issue was eventually settled when a fourth justice concluded they should count in the 2020 elections, but not beyond — a decision which prompted several lawsuits at the state and federal level.
  • Divisions emerged in the state Supreme Court over the question of whether discarding ballots with wrong or no dates violates federal law. Authorities are prohibited from throwing out ballots for trivial reasons, and the court was evenly split over whether such date errors constitute a trivial justification.
  • Republicans celebrated Tuesday's decision, which came as a result of a suit brought by GOP voters and groups. Arguments over the practice resulted in undated ballots being counted in the state primary this year, though this week's developments have again raised uncertainty over the problem.
  • Over 900K mail ballots have been returned in Pennsylvania so far in this year's elections. Over 70% of those votes have come from registered Democrats, according to the US Elections Project.

Sources: CNN, Politico, Reuters, Inquirer, and Daily Wire.

Narratives

  • Republican narrative, as provided by Daily Caller. This is a victory for the voters of Pennsylvania. Republicans have protected the rule of law by successfully taking this flaw in voting security to court. The GOP is helping to uphold democracy by safeguarding election integrity.
  • Democratic narrative, as provided by NY Times. This ruling will do nothing except disenfranchise voters based on an irrelevant technicality. The GOP has, once again, undermined democracy by deliberately making it harder for Democrats to vote, in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act. In such close upcoming elections, a minority of erroneous votes could swing the results — Democrats must vote carefully in this precarious situation.

Predictions