GOP goes to court again over Pennsylvania mail-in ballots

Oct 16, 2022, 7:41 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2022, 11:24 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

Judge, pot shop robbery...
Associated Press

Washington state man charged in 34-year-old Wisconsin murder

A Washington state man has been charged in the 1988 slaying of a Wisconsin woman after he was identified using "familial DNA searching"
12 hours ago
(Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)...
Associated Press

District to pay $5M over teen’s death at football practice

A Washington school district will pay $5.25 million to the family of a high school student who died from a heart attack during a 2018 football practice.
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-Fox liberal guest charged with exploiting her mom

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A former regular liberal guest on Fox News stole at least $224,000 from her 88-year-old mother and unnecessarily put her into a nursing home twice against her will, including once dragging the woman from her home, Florida authorities said Friday. Cathy Areu, 51, is facing numerous felony charges including kidnapping, […]
1 day ago
FILE - A sign on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vt., is pictured on March 11, 2020...
Associated Press

Students sue Vermont school over response to sex assaults

Three women are suing the University of Vermont, saying the school failed to adequately respond after they reported they had been sexually assaulted while students on the Burlington campus. The civil suit, which is seeking unspecified damages, says that after the three women were sexually assaulted a number of administrators and school staff showed “deliberate […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

4 teens arrested in baseball bat beating death in Nebraska

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Four teens — two of them only 13 — have been arrested in connection with the death of a 62-year-old man who was beaten with a baseball bat on an Omaha street, police said Friday. The beating happened on Halloween afternoon in midtown Omaha, police said. Officers called to the scene […]
1 day ago
FILE - Alex Murdaugh, center, talks with his defense attorney Dick Harpootlian after a hearing in C...
Associated Press

Prosecutors say Murdaugh killed wife and son to cover crimes

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Disbarred South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and son to gain sympathy, thereby providing a cover from damning financial crimes, prosecutors alleged Thursday as they provided their most detailed theory in a saga that has drawn worldwide attention for its bizarre twists. Questions around motive came to a head […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
GOP goes to court again over Pennsylvania mail-in ballots