In the tight and tense Senate contest being waged in Pennsylvania between Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman, a new wrinkle has emerged that has local governments warning some mail-in voters that their ballots may not be counted.
As noted by NPR, federal law assumes voters are not perfect and bans throwing out a ballot for what might be called a trivial reason. Pennsylvania state law, however, requires voters to specifically date and sign a mail-in ballot.
In response to a lawsuit by the Republican National Committee that said a strict interpretation of the law should prevail, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court deadlocked last week on whether the lack of a date is a significant enough violation to throw out the ballots.
As a result, the court ordered that ballots with date issues be set aside.
PENNSYLVANIA: Hundreds of mail-in ballots have been reported as incorrectly dated. If you submitted a mail-in ballot in Allegheny County, please make sure your name isn’t on this list. Having the wrong or no date means your ballot won’t count.https://t.co/fxpA7t4Goj pic.twitter.com/uGM8wVxjyp
— MYFAM Productions (@myfamny) November 7, 2022
That means that those ballots are not to be counted Tuesday but could still come into play if a future court ruling overturns the state Supreme Court ruling.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to have the incorrectly dated or undated ballots counted.
2/ If a voter doesn’t handwrite the date & sign the declaration on outer envelope, and envelope arrives *after* 8pm on #ElectionDay, a postmark *stamp* could be stamped incorrectly (backdate) & an unlawful ballot would be counted.#Pennsylvania #Election2022 #ElectionNight @GOP
— Ocean Floor Investigations (@ofiresearch) November 7, 2022
In response to the court ruling, Allegheny County has posted 1,000 names on its website of voters with errors dating their ballots.
“On Saturday, November 5, 2022, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order defining what incorrectly dated declaration envelopes are to supplement its prior order that undated and incorrectly dated mail-in and absentee ballots should be segregated and not counted,” the county said in the notice.
“Specifically, mail-in ballots with dates of September 19 through November 8 are properly dated. Absentee ballots with dates of August 30 through November 8 are properly dated. All others are segregated and will not count pursuant to the Court’s order,” the notice said.
“As there is not opportunity to notify impacted voters by letter of this decision and their opportunity to cure, we are instead providing a list of those voters who returned ballots in these two categories: no date and incorrectly dated,” it said.
Berks County has taken similar steps, according to WFMZ-TV in Allentown.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “Several lawyers immediately noted that could potentially bolster a legal argument that Democrats and voting-rights groups have made that the state’s dating requirement is merely a technicality that isn’t used to determine the legitimacy of the vote. Throwing votes out for such a technicality, they argue, violates federal civil rights law.”
“While we will be carefully following the Pennsylvania Supreme Court orders, today’s supplemental order supports what I’ve always said: that a handwritten date isn’t material,” said Seth Bluestein, the sole Republican on Philadelphia’s elections board, the city commissioners, according to the Inquirer.
“The only thing that matters is that the declaration on the ballot envelope was signed between when ballots are sent and Election Day.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.