Days before the 2022 midterm elections, Pennsylvania Republican Senate leaders wrote to their commonwealth’s chief voting overseer seeking assurance that laws governing undated absentee ballots will be followed.
The letter from Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Greensburg) and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) goes on to urge acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D) to follow official procedure on other electoral matters as well.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court this week ordered counties to decline to count any absentee or mail-in ballot delivered in an undated envelope.
State law, which has permitted no-excuse absentee voting since 2020, requires those not voting in person to place their ballot into a secrecy envelope before placing it into a return envelope. Voter must sign and date that outer envelope for their ballot to be valid under state statute.
Pennsylvania’s Republican Party and its national counterpart filed a lawsuit this week to prevent the state’s Democrat-run executive branch from requiring counties to count undated absentee ballots.
A lawsuit that originated in 2021 to settle a dispute about whether such ballots should be tallied resulted in the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals answering in the affirmative this June. That ruling decided a race for Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas in favor of Democrat Zachary Cohen over Republican David Ritter.
Pennsylvania Democrats remain opposed to discarding undated absentee ballots, despite a Supreme Court decision suggesting that the ballots should not count.
Shortly after Governor Tom Wolf (D) and acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D) indicated they will continue to instruct counties to count mail-in ballots that come in envelopes on which voters did not write a date, state Senator Jim Brewster (D) proposed legislation to end the date requirement entirely.
The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a lower federal court’s decision Tuesday allowing Pennsylvania counties to count undated mail-in ballots.
The case originated in 2021 after Republican David Ritter and Democrat Zachary Cohen vied for a judgeship on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas and their race came to a near tie. Cohen eventually netted a five-vote lead when the Philadelphia-based Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals resolved a dispute between the candidates about whether to count 257 absentee ballots. Those sheets were returned in envelopes on which the voter failed to write a date.
Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court on Friday ordered three counties that declined to count undated absentee ballots to count them.
Republican Commonwealth Court President Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer issued the ruling affecting Berks, Fayette and Lancaster counties. Last month, Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D) sued the three jurisdictions to compel them to include votes delivered in undated envelopes in their May 17 primary results.
Attorneys for Senate candidate Dave McCormick on Monday found themselves in the atypical position of arguing in Commonwealth Court alongside Pennsylvania’s Democratic Secretary of State about which ballots to count.
The Republican and former hedge-fund executive is challenging the vote-counting standard that has determined the gap of 922 votes between him and his leading primary opponent, celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz.
The determination of Pennsylvania’s unsettled Republican Senate nomination battle between Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick could depend on a federal court decision regarding undated mail-in ballots.
As of Sunday afternoon, Oz held 418,535 votes to McCormick’s 417,465, putting the former ahead by far less than the 0.5 percent maximum gap that triggers an automatic recount. While over 99 percent of all ballots cast in the election have been counted, an ongoing dispute about whether undated absentee ballots should be deemed valid has the potential to erase Oz’s lead.