Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered state election officials to set aside undated mail-in ballots ahead of next week’s midterm elections.
The court unanimously decided to set aside undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots. Under Pennsylvania law, mail-in voters are required to sign and date a declaration on the outer envelope. Despite this requirement, if undated or incorrectly dated ballots are turned in on time, they are eligible to be counted.
However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered election officials to “segregate and preserve” any incorrect or undated mail-in ballots.
“The Pennsylvania county boards of elections are hereby ORDERED to refrain from counting any absentee and mail-in ballots received for the November 8, 2022 general election that are contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes,” the court wrote.
“We hereby DIRECT that the Pennsylvania county boards of elections segregate and preserve any ballots contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes,” the court added.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court opposes Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, which recently advised county election officials to count undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots.
The court’s decision comes after a Republican National Committee-led lawsuit against acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh Chapman and other state officials.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the court’s decision a “massive victory.”
This ruling is a massive victory for Pennsylvania voters and the rule of law. Following an RNC, NRCC, and PAGOP lawsuit, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has made clear that incorrectly dated and undated mail ballots can not be counted. Republicans went to court, and now Democrats and all counties have to follow the law: this is a milestone in Republicans’ ongoing efforts to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in Pennsylvania and nationwide.
Although the court’s decision is a victory for Republicans who have mounted legal challenges to election laws in various states, America First Policy Institute Center for Election Integrity chairman Ken Blackwell cautioned that the decision could have been a “tactical retreat” by the court’s Democrats. Blackwell said:
This is a big win for election integrity, leaving open the question as to how a partisan Democrat state supreme court could have voted for it. There was a question about whether this requirement could be severed from other items the Left cares about. Given that, I’m raising my eyebrows as to whether this was a tactical retreat.
The justices were split about whether the date requirement for mail-in ballots would violate the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says immaterial errors should not be used to prohibit voting.
Three Democrat justices would find the dating requirement to be a violation of federal law, while one Democrat and two Republican justices see no violation. The justices’ opinions were not immediately released.
Out of the nearly 1.4 million mail-in ballots Pennsylvania voters requested, counties have reported receiving over 850,000 completed ballots, the Associated Press reported.
The case is Ball v. Chapman, No. 102 MM 2022, in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.