Supreme Court Sides with PA Republicans on Ballot Issue

SCOTUS threw out the lower court’s ruling which had allowed counting of un-dated ballots.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Republicans from Pennsylvania on Tuesday, throwing out a lower court’s ruling on mail-in ballots.
  • An unsuccessful candidate for a judgeship in Pennsylvania, David Ritter, appealed the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case.
  • The lower court allowed mail-in ballots without dates to be counted in his 2021 race, which he looked to exclude.
  • In their ruling, the justices vacated the 3rd Circuit’s decision on appeal in a move that, had it been the law at the time of the election, would have allowed Ritter to win his election.
  • The Republican lost to his Democratic rival, Zachary Cohen, by five votes after 257 un-dated absentee ballots were counted in the election.
WHAT THE COURT’S RULING MEANS:
  • Due to the Supreme Court’s decision in Ritter’s case, the 3rd Circuit decision cannot be used as a precedent in the three states covered by this regional federal appellate court.
  • “We are at a loss to understand how the date on the outside envelope could be material when incorrect dates — including future dates — are allowable but envelopes where the voter simply did not fill in a date are not,” Judge Theodore McKee said in the unanimous decision in May. “Surely, the right to vote is made of sterner stuff than that.”
  • Prior to the ruling, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware all allowed the counting of ballots with minor errors like the voter failing to fill in the date.
BACKGROUND:
  • In June of this year the Supreme Court ruled in favor of counting mail-in ballots in a 6-3 decision, also about a contested Pennsylvania election.
  • At the time, the dissent was from conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch who wrote that they should have stayed the appeals court’s ruling to review the case, which they said, “could well affect the outcome of the fall elections.”