JUSTICE ALITO WARNS — Supreme Court approves counting undated mail-In ballots in Pennsylvania…
The U.S. Supreme Court gave the green light to counting undated mail-in ballots in a contested Pennsylvania local election, a move with broader implications for close races in November’s midterm elections.
Over the objection of three justices, the Court restored a federal appeals court ruling that said disqualifying ballots received on time but lacking a date on the return envelope would violate federal voting rights.
Pennsylvania state law requires that voters include a date next to the signature, even though mail ballots are typically postmarked and dated again by election officials when they are received. The appeals court concluded the absence of the handwritten date was an “immaterial” error.
The Supreme Court did not elaborate on its decision to allow counting to proceed, and it is not binding precedent. But it does suggest that a majority of justices support the view that discarding ballots over small administrative errors or omissions would harm the franchise.
Justice Samuel Alito, in a dissent joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said he would have stayed the appeals court ruling in order to review the merits of the dispute, which he said “could well affect the outcome of the fall elections.”
Alito wrote that he believes the Third Circuit opinion is “very likely wrong.”
“When a mail-in ballot is not counted because it was not filled out correctly, the voter is not denied ‘the right to vote.’ Rather, that individual’s vote is not counted because he or she did not follow the rules for casting a ballot.”