Supreme Court allows Pennsylvania to count ballots received up to 3 days after Election Day

Written by on October 19, 2020

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Throughout his ABC city corridor, Joe Biden was requested to make clear his stance on including extra seats to the Supreme Court docket. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court dominated Monday that absentee ballots in Pennsylvania will be obtained as much as three days past Election Day, setting a precedent that might apply to another states as nicely.

A shorthanded court docket, functioning with solely eight members since the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, cut up 4-Four on the choice. Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal Affiliate Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan whereas conservative Affiliate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh shaped the opposing bloc.

Due to the 4-4 tie, the decrease court docket ruling by the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court docket stands and that court docket had dominated in favor of a three-day extension. 

The justices’ order establishes the ground rules for mail-in voting in one of many nation’s key battleground states, the place President Donald Trump and former vice chairman Joe Biden are combating exhausting for its 20 electoral votes.

The ruling may have an effect in different states the place the deadline for mail-in ballots has been the topic of court docket battles. These embrace Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, Indiana and Montana.

Extra: Supreme Court is shorthanded but could play role in election

The state’s Democratic Occasion initiated the authorized motion in Pennsylvania, urging state courts to increase the Nov. three poll return deadline in mild of the COVID-19 pandemic that presents dangers for in-person voting. State Lawyer Normal Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, additionally mentioned the date must be prolonged, and the state Supreme Court docket agreed. 

That left the state Republican Occasion and state Senate leaders to defend the unique Election Day deadline. They requested the U.S. Supreme Court docket to dam the state court docket’s ruling as a violation of federal regulation, which units Election Day as the primary Tuesday in November. Additionally they mentioned the extension violates the Structure. 

“That is an open invitation to voters to solid their ballots after Election Day, thereby injecting chaos and the potential for gamesmanship into what was an orderly and safe schedule of clear, bright-line deadlines,” Jason Torchinsky, the lawyer for state Senate leaders, mentioned in court docket papers.

“In a yr the place there’s a very actual risk that the ultimate presidential election outcome hinges on Pennsylvania, the brand new guidelines imposed by the choice of the Supreme Court docket of Pennsylvania (a physique elected in partisan elections) may destroy the American public’s confidence within the electoral system as a complete,” he wrote.

Democrats countered that due to the state court docket ruling, officers have already got suggested voters that ballots will be obtained till Friday, Nov. 6. In consequence, they mentioned, a reversal would add to confusion and invite further litigation in different states.

“Their argument would nearly actually invalidate a number of state election legal guidelines on the eve of the election,” Clifford Levine, the state Democratic Occasion’s lawyer, mentioned in court docket papers.

Nationwide, more than 300 election-related lawsuits have been filed, largely because of issues related to COVID-19 and the growth of voting by mail. Republicans, together with Trump’s reelection marketing campaign, usually search to restrict such voting, whereas Democrats need to increase it.

Extra: Election lawsuits set record pace amid COVID-19 pandemic as results decide who votes and how Nov. 3

The Supreme Court docket has been concerned since April, when it dominated 5-4 alongside ideological traces that absentee voting in Wisconsin couldn’t be prolonged previous the first election date. Most just lately, it dominated that South Carolina can maintain its requirement that absentee ballots include witness signatures

Extra circumstances are headed to the court docket over the best way mail-in ballots are distributed, delivered and counted in an election that Trump claims, with out proof, has been rigged towards him.

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