U.S. Supreme Court allows counting of undated mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) – A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the counting of undated mail-in ballots in an undecided 2021 election for a judgeship in Pennsylvania in a case that again revealed the tensions between judges over the right to vote.

The judges’ ruling against David Ritter, a Republican candidate for a judgeship on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, means Pennsylvania officials can count 250 mail-in ballots in this election with no handwritten date. Ritter had sued the county board of elections for fear of losing the race if those votes were counted.

Three conservative justices – Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch – dissented, saying the court should have prevented the vote count. The court has a 6-3 conservative majority. The nine justices have often split on voting issues, usually on ideological lines dividing the court’s conservatives from their liberal colleagues.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Alito wrote that he fears the trial court decision involved in the case “may well affect the outcome” of the elections to be held in November. In Pennsylvania, there is a closely watched US Senate race between Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman that could help determine which party controls the chamber.

The justices’ action left in place a May ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd United States Circuit Court of Appeals that undated ballots could be counted.

Disputes over Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting rules were a feature of the 2020 presidential election in which the state was a key battleground. Then-Republican President Donald Trump lost the state to Democratic challenger Joe Biden, with the mail-in ballot fight that favored Biden helping to fuel Trump’s false allegations of widespread voter fraud .

The 3rd Circuit ruled in Ritter’s case that under a provision of the federal civil rights law, failure to include the date on a mail-in ballot is “immaterial” to the ballot’s validity. vote and must therefore be counted. The provision in question is intended to protect the right to vote.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment