GOP goes to court again over Pennsylvania mail-in ballots

Oct 17, 2022, 7:41 AM | Updated: 11:54 am

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The state and national Republican parties are suing anew in Pennsylvania in an effort to block some mail-in ballots — those lacking the voter’s handwritten date on the return envelope — from being counted in November, when voters will elect a new governor and U.S. senator.

The GOP’s filing late Sunday went straight to the state Supreme Court, with barely three weeks left before Election Day. The court does not have to take up the lawsuit.

“The time for the Court to act is now,” lawyers for the Republican Party told the justices in the lawsuit.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration declined to comment, but it supports counting ballots with undated or improperly dated envelopes.

The effort by Republicans to ensure that improperly dated or undated ballot envelopes are thrown out could help their candidates in tight contests around the state.

As of Friday, nearly 1.2 million voters had applied for a mail-in ballot, with applications from registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans by an almost 4-to-1 ratio. Throwing out undated ballots would theoretically ensure that more Democratic ballots are tossed out, helping Republican candidates.

Wolf’s administration last week told counties that they are expected to include ballots with undated or improperly dated envelopes in their official returns for the Nov. 8 election.

In an email to county officials, a top state elections official wrote that a June state court decision found that “both Pennsylvania and federal law prohibit excluding legal votes because the voter omitted an irrelevant date on the ballot return envelope, and that decision remains good law.”

The new lawsuit is the latest turn in a legal fight over a provision in the state’s 2019 expansive mail-in voting law that Republicans say required voters to date a ballot’s return envelope.

The fight has already reached the U.S. Supreme Court and state Supreme Court, producing conflicting conclusions on narrower issues in each.

Democrats have argued that throwing out a voter’s ballot because it lacks a proper date violates their civil rights, and that the provision is useless anyway because mail-in ballots are supposed to be postmarked and then time-stamped by the county receiving them. They say that the law gives no purpose for the requirement of a date, anyway.

Some Democratic-controlled counties have pushed to count ballots with undated envelopes, and Wolf’s administration, following lower court rulings on the matter, successfully sued to force counties to tabulate them in the May primary.

The state Supreme Court never considered the case cited by state elections officials in last week’s guidance to counties because the plaintiff — failed Republican U.S. Senate primary candidate David McCormick — withdrew it.

Even before that, the state Supreme Court, in a 2020 decision, agreed that the Legislature had meant to require that ballot envelopes to be dated — a decision cited by the Republican plaintiffs in the new case.

But the lower court judge in June’s decision, Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, said the state Supreme Court was not presented with the same arguments that she heard.

In her estimation, “the absence of a handwritten date on the exterior envelope could be considered a ‘minor irregularity’ without a compelling reason that justifies the disenfranchisement of otherwise eligible voters by not counting their timely received ballot,” she wrote.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed moot a decision in May by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that applied to counting the ballots in a Lehigh County judicial race last year. That means the case can’t be cited as precedent.

__

Follow the AP’s full coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Queen Margrethe attends the Danish Parliament's celebration of her 50th Regent's Anniversary...
Associated Press

Danish queen to undergo ‘major back surgery’

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II, whose half-century reign makes her Europe’s longest-serving monarch, will undergo “major back surgery” later this month, the royal palace said Wednesday. The 82-year-monarch will be hospitalized afterward and undergo “a longer rehabilitation process,” the royal household said in a statement. “During a long period, Her Majesty has […]
9 hours ago
Associated Press

Blaze at US drone plant in Latvia; arson not suspected

HELSINKI (AP) — Firefighters worked for a second day Wednesday to fully extinguish a blaze at a U.S. company’s drone plant in Latvia, as police said no indications of sabotage have been found so far. Latvia’s State Fire and Rescue Service was alerted Tuesday afternoon that a fire had broken out at Edge Autonomy’s drone […]
9 hours ago
FILE - People walk past a Microsoft office in New York on Nov. 10, 2016.  (AP Photo/Swayne B. Hall,...
Associated Press

Microsoft’s Activision deal hurts gamers, UK watchdog says

LONDON (AP) — Microsoft’s stalled $68.7 billion deal to buy video game company Activision Blizzard has hit a fresh hurdle in the United Kingdom, where the antitrust watchdog said Wednesday that it will stifle competition and hurt gamers. Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority said its in-depth investigation found that the deal could strengthen Microsoft’s position […]
9 hours ago
FILE - The Container ship Cam Cgm Arctic (MT) is moored at Maersk APM Terminals Pacific, Pier 400, ...
Associated Press

Shipper Maersk reports most profitable year, warns of drop

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The world’s biggest shipper, Denmark’s A.P. Moeller-Maersk, said Wednesday that 2022 was its most profitable year in “the history of the company” but warned that a plunge in container volumes and freight rates would lead to a drop in earnings this year. Full-year revenue increased by 32%, to $81.5 billion from […]
9 hours ago
Lindsay McDonald holds up a photo she took of an orb over central Montana that's believed to be a s...
Associated Press

US, states weigh farmland restrictions after Chinese balloon

HARLOWTON, Mont. (AP) — Near the banks of Montana’s Musselshell River, cattle rancher Michael Miller saw a large, white orb above the town of Harlowton last week, a day before U.S. officials revealed they were tracking a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the state. The balloon caused a stir in the 900-person town surrounded by […]
9 hours ago
Associated Press

Russia seeks lengthy prison term for ex-governor

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities on Wednesday requested a lengthy prison term for a former regional governor who is standing trial on murder charges and whose arrest two years ago prompted weeks-long mass protests. The prosecutor has asked a court in the Moscow region to sentence Sergei Furgal, former governor of Russia’s far eastern Khabarovsk […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
GOP goes to court again over Pennsylvania mail-in ballots