Pennsylvania Supreme Court bars counting incorrectly dated absentee ballots

The Republican Party had sued Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman in her official capacity over the matter.

Updated: November 1, 2022 - 9:00pm

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday handed the Republican Party an enormous election integrity win ahead of the November midterm elections, ruling that the commonwealth may not count incorrectly dated or undated absentee ballots.

"The Pennsylvania county boards of elections are hereby ORDERED to refrain from counting any absentee and mail-in ballots received for the November 8, 2022 general election that are contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes," the two-page court order reads.

"We hereby DIRECT that the Pennsylvania county boards of elections segregate and preserve any ballots contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes," it continued.

The court split evenly on the matter of whether the rejection of such ballots would violate the federal Civil Rights Act. Chief Justice Max Baer died last month. Hence, the even number of justices.

It remains unclear whether the commonwealth could, or would, appeal the decision. A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman told the New York Times that "[w]e are reviewing, but the order underscores the importance of the state's consistent guidance that voters should carefully follow all instructions on their mail ballot and double-check before returning it."

The Republican Party had sued Chapman in her official capacity over the matter. The state was one of several that attracted accusations of widespread voter fraud given the protracted ballot counting process and the abundance of absentee ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Republican National Committee has sought to ensure election integrity ahead of the midterm contests and has filed a bevy of preventative suits to that end in what has been the organization's "most litigious" election cycle.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel celebrated the ruling on Twitter, saying it would require the Democrats to adhere to existing election laws.

The midterms take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8.