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Federal appeals court rules Pennsylvania must only count mail ballots with dates, signatures

The NAACP sued Pennsylvania in 2022 regarding the commonwealth's decision to void mail-in ballots that are either missing a date on the outer return envelopes or have an incorrect date.

Published: March 27, 2024 8:10pm

Updated: March 27, 2024 11:46pm

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled Wednesday that Pennsylvania may enforce state law requiring envelopes for mail-in ballots to be dated and include the voter's signature.

In Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP v. Chapman, the plaintiff sued the then-acting secretary of the commonwealth in 2022 regarding Pennsylvania’s decision to void mail-in ballots that are either missing a date on the outer return envelopes or have an incorrect date.

Pennsylvania counties were ordered by a lower court following a Republican lawsuit in 2022 to reject undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots. The issue was then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 

The NAACP argued that the mail-in ballots are valid – regardless of the incorrect or missing date – and should be counted. 

In the November 2022 election, 10,000 mail-in ballots weren't accepted because they had incorrect or missing dates.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the circuit court ruled that the state law be enforced.

Derek Lyons, president of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, said in a statement on Wednesday:

“Left-wing activists have spent an untold fortune trying to stop Pennsylvania from enforcing its mail ballot safeguards. Today, a federal appellate court definitively rejected their argument. Too many voters doubt the integrity of elections because of an unrelenting assault on election laws from left-wing partisan litigators. The court’s ruling today is a clear statement that state legislatures, not courts, should make election laws. RITE is proud to have played a supporting role in this case.”

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