Politics Split High Court Rejects Pennsylvania GOP, Allows Late Ballots

03:15  20 october  2020
03:15  20 october  2020 Source:   bloomberg.com

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HARRISBURG, Pa . (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put a hold on a court ruling in the battleground state that extends the deadline in November's election to receive and count mailed-in ballots .

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court , in a single-sentence order issued Friday afternoon, affirmed Commonwealth Court 's ruling from last week that Linda Kerns, the Republican City Committee's associate general counsel, argued that state law allows for a late substitution if a candidate dies or

(Bloomberg) -- An evenly divided U.S. Supreme Court allowed a three-day extension for the receipt of mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, giving Democrats a boost in a state that could determine the presidential election.

text, letter: Envelopes display © Bloomberg Envelopes display "Official Election Ballot" at the Board of Elections in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Pennsylvania is taking steps to scale up for the November 3 election. Counties are investing millions of dollars on new ballot sorters, high-speed scanners and other equipment and staff to handle the projected 3 million mail-in ballots for November 3.

The justices, voting 4-4 and giving no explanation, rejected a Republican bid to reinstate the state’s requirement that ballots arrive by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the deadline until Nov. 6, even if the ballots lacked a legible postmark showing they were mailed by Election Day.

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Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballot applications have been scrapped by Pennsylvania election officials, with countless voters filing duplicate requests One voter appears to have made 11 attempts in total. One likely explanation for the rash of confusion is a lack of clarity in rejection notices sent out

The courts rejected requests to throw out or halt use of the map imposed last month by the state After Wolf and lawmakers in the GOP -controlled General Assembly did not produce a replacement They wanted the new map put on hold while they pursued an appeal to the nation's highest court .

The breakdown underscores the impact Amy Coney Barrett could have if, as expected, she secures Senate confirmation next week to fill a vacancy on the court. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three Democratic appointees in voting to allow the extension.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would have granted the Republican request and reinstated the Nov. 3 deadline. The court deliberated for almost two weeks over the case.

Pennsylvania, where polls show Democrat Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump, could become a focus in any post-election legal showdown. By law, election officials can’t start counting mail in-ballots until Election Day, meaning the results might not be known for days. More than 2.7 million Pennsylvania voters have requested mail ballots.

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Pennsylvania 's Supreme Court previously allowed election officials to count mail-in ballots received up to three days after the election, even if the postmark was illegible. That ruling would allow votes of thousands of Pennsylvanians that could have been rejected for arriving after Election Day to be

Pennsylvania has rejected more than 370,000 applications for mail-in ballots , most of which were duplicate requests The battleground state's election offices rejected 372,000 requests for mail-in ballots , according to the report. About 90 percent of the denied application requests were duplicates

Pennsylvania is allowing no-excuse mail-in voting for the first time in 2020. A measure passed last year by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by the Democratic governor said those ballots had to be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Mail Delays

After the pandemic hit and then the U.S. Postal Service warned about likely mail delays, Democrats sued to try to extend the ballot-receipt deadline for seven days. Democrats pointed to a state constitutional clause that guarantees a “free and equal” election.

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Pennsylvania’s top elections official, Democratic Secretary Kathy Boockvar, then told the state’s Supreme Court that a three-day extension would be sufficient, and the court granted that extension on a 4-3 vote. The Pennsylvania court ruling required elections officials to presume that any ballot received by Nov. 6 was mailed on time, even if it lacked a legible postmark.

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The Pennsylvania Republican Party is pushing back against an explosive report earlier this week in The Atlantic that said the GOP -run legislature is already strategizing how to overturn the statewide results if Trump loses.

A Court of Appeals panel has reversed a lower court ruling that would have required election officials to count late absentee ballots and allowed third parties Lansing — Michigan voters must have their absentee ballots to local clerks no later than 8 p.m. Nov. 3 after a state Court of Appeals panel on

Pennsylvania Republicans told the U.S. Supreme Court that the state court ruling violates the federal laws that establish a single nationwide Election Day. The ruling “has created a strong likelihood that ballots cast or mailed after the scheduled election day will count in the upcoming general election,” the Pennsylvania Republican Party argued in court papers.

State Legislatures

Two leading Republican state senators asked the U.S. Supreme Court to go even further and throw out the deadline extension altogether. They said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated a U.S. constitutional provision that says state legislatures get to set the rules for the presidential election.

“The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s decision makes precisely the kind of policy choices the elections clause assigned to the various state legislatures,” Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati and Majority Leader Jake Corman argued.

Democrats said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling didn’t change the state’s requirement that votes be cast by Election Day. And they said the U.S. Constitution doesn’t prevent a state’s highest court from interpreting its own constitution and election laws.

“Rather than usurping the role of the General Assembly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court applied established state constitutional principles and then endeavored to discern the remedy that the General Assembly would have wanted,” the Pennsylvania Democratic Party argued.

Boockvar said Republicans were seeking to have the Supreme Court “intrude upon Pennsylvania law and sovereignty.”

The cases are Scarnati v. Boockvar, 20A53, and Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar, 20A54.

(Updates with details on breakdown in third and fourth paragraph.)

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Early Data Shows Mail-In Ballots Are Moving Quickly Through Post Office .
Whether or not the mail runs on time has never been more important. Tuesday was the last day the U.S. Postal Service would guarantee that a mailed ballot would arrive at election offices by Nov. 3. With 28 million absentee ballots still outstanding, that means the Postal Service has been entrusted to deliver a record number of mail-in ballots. Fears are rampant that the post office will fall short. Delivery has not fully rebounded since the summer, when the coronavirus and new policies from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an appointee of President Donald Trump, created rippling delays in deliveries.

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