Deadlocked Supreme Court Allows 3-Day Extension of Pennsylvania’s Mail-In Ballot Deadline
Should mail-in ballots count if they’re received 3 days after Election Day?
by SCOTUS WATCH | 10.20.20
What’s the story?
- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued a pair of 4-4 split decisions that will allow Pennsylvania to count mail-in ballots that are received up to three days after Election Day as long as there isn’t evidence they were mailed after polls closed.
- The deadlocked decisions leave in effect the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to reject an appeal by the state Republican Party seeking to require that mail-in ballots be received by the time polls close on Election Day. The merits of the case could still be heard by the Court if the Pennsylvania GOP files a new challenge accusing the state court of judicial overreach, but they haven’t announced whether they will do so.
- The Court only has eight justices on the bench because the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hasn’t been filled yet, although the Senate appears set to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Monday, October 26th.
- Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Court’s three liberal justices in declining to put Pennsylvania’s extended deadline on hold and hear Republicans’ appeal, while the other four conservative justices said they would have granted the appeal and put the deadline on hold in the meantime.
- In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to be received by elections officials from Election Day, November 3rd, to November 6th so as to allow time for ballots mailed on election day (as permitted by state law) to be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Under the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling, the ballots don’t have to have a clear postmark as long as there isn’t proof they were mailed after the polls closed.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / klenger)
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