Pennsylvania

GOP Takes Pennsylvania Court's Ballot Deadline to High Court

The Pennsylvania court, which has a 5-2 Democratic majority, last week rejected without comment a request by Republicans to put on hold its decision to extend the deadline for receiving and counting mail-in ballots

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Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to put a hold on a court ruling in the battleground state that extends the deadline in November’s election to receive and count mailed-in ballots.

In Monday's filing, Republicans argue that the three-day extension violates federal law that sets Election Day as the first Tuesday in November and that such a decision constitutionally belongs to lawmakers, not the court.

Republicans also object to a portion of the state court’s ruling that orders counties to count ballots that arrive during the three-day period even if they lack a postmark or legible postmark, unless there is proof they were mailed after polls closed.

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On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dealt a blow to Republicans in the legal fight over the deadline for mailed ballots.

The Pennsylvania court, which has a 5-2 Democratic majority, rejected without comment a request by Republicans to put on hold its decision to extend the deadline for receiving and counting mail-in ballots.

The divided court earlier this month granted the Democratic Party’s request to order an extension of Pennsylvania’s Election Day deadline to count mailed ballots.

The court said ballots must be postmarked by the time polls close and be received by county election boards at 5 p.m. on Nov. 6, three days after the Nov. 3 election.

It cited warnings of the prospect of Postal Service delays in invalidating huge numbers of ballots and demand for mailed ballots during the coronavirus pandemic to invoke the power, used previously by the state’s courts, to extend election deadlines during a disaster emergency.

Ballots can be counted if they lack a postmark, a legible postmark or some other proof of mailing unless a “preponderance of the evidence” shows it was mailed after Election Day, the court said.

Republicans opposed changing the deadline, as well as counting ballots without legible postmarks to prove they were mailed before polls closed.

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