On Tuesday, the Supreme Court vacated an appeals court decision requiring Pennsylvania to count mail-in ballots even if they were in an undated envelope. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote,
“The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit with instructions to dismiss the case as moot,”
According to the Epoch Times, the justices sided with the Republican candidate for a judgeship, David Ritter. Ritter lost his 2021 race after 257 un-dated ballots were counted. Ritter was running for Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas and attempted to have the votes thrown out, but in a ruling earlier this year, the Supreme Court denied Ritter’s request.
The Supreme Courts Tuesday ruling will not change the outcome of Ritter’s previous loss, but it will set a precedent for the upcoming midterm elections.
Justice Samuel Alito addressed the appeals court ruling that an “individual’s vote is not counted because he or she did not follow the rules for casting a ballot,” adding that the appeals court interpretation is “very likely wrong.”
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Pennsylvania law stipulates that voters must write the date on the outer envelope of their mail-in ballot.
Election issues have become contentious political arguments, with Democrats often arguing that following laws disenfranchises people. However, justice Alito and others have pointed out it is a simple matter of following the rules. Rules are part of life, from elections to sports, and as Jeff Clark tweeted, “Rules are rules.”
What Dems don’t seem to understand is that ballots that don’t comport with rules laid down by state legislatures are unlawful.
Not counting them is NOT disenfranchisement. It’s no different than rolling back a penalized football play. Rules are rules https://t.co/b2KrIMxpyr
— Jeff Clark (@JeffClarkUS) October 11, 2022
The 3rd Circuit appeals court previously ruled that the undated mail-in votes could be counted following a lawsuit filed by elderly voters who said forgetting to date a ballot was a “meaningless technicality.”
The appeals court cited a 1964 federal law called the Civil Rights Act that ensures that minor ballot errors do not deny someone the right to vote. Clearly, not dating a ballot falls outside of minor errors.
There are likely to be many other election law challenges nearing the midterms. The decision by the Supreme Court to disallow non-dated ballots could play a role in deciding many races this fall, including the hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman.