Midterms /

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Undated, Incorrectly Dated Mail-In Ballots Cannot Be Counted In Midterms

'We Hereby Direct That The Pennsylvania County Boards Of Elections Segregate And Preserve Any Ballots Contained In Undated Or Incorrectly Dated Outer Envelopes'

In a Tuesday ruling, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania announced absentee and mail-in ballots with incorrect or missing dates could not be counted in the upcoming midterm election.

The ruling follows a lawsuit from the Republican National Committee (RNC) which argued Pennsylvania law requires voters to properly date their absentee and mail-in ballots. The suit requested the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to segregate undated and incorrectly dated ballots in all counties.

“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,” reads the ruling. “We hereby direct that the Pennsylvania county boards of elections segregate and preserve any ballots contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes.”

“No person acting under color of law shall … deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election,” reads the code cited by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

“Every county is expected to include undated ballots in their official returns for the Nov. 8 election, consistent with the Department of State’s guidance,” Pennsylvania’s Department of State wrote on Oct. 11.

Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman reiterated the Department of State’s announcement in a statement that same day.

“Every county is expected to include undated ballots in their official returns for the Nov. 8 election, consistent with the Department of State’s guidance,” read the statement. “That guidance followed the most recent ruling of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court holding that both Pennsylvania and federal law prohibit excluding legal votes because the voter omitted an irrelevant date on the ballot return envelope.”

The statement continued:

Today’s order from the U.S. Supreme Court vacating the Third Circuit’s decision on mootness grounds was not based on the merits of the issue and does not affect the prior decision of Commonwealth Court in any way. It provides no justification for counties to exclude ballots based on a minor omission, and we expect that counties will continue to comply with their obligation to count all legal votes.

Pennsylvania is the home of two closely contested elections in next week’s midterm election. Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz has overtaken Democratic challenger and current Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman in recent polling following their only televised debate last Tuesday. Current Attorney General and Democratic candidate for Governor Josh Shapiro is facing Republican challenger Doug Mastriano, who was recently endorsed by fellow Republican Arizona candidate Kari Lake as well as former Democrat legislator Tulsi Gabbard.

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