The U.S. Supreme Court recently dismissed the ruling out of the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals court that had permitted outdated and undated ballots to be dismissed out of the ballot counting.
The lower court had earlier argued that not counting the undated ballots would “violate a provision from the 1964 Cvil Rights Act,” but the decision was thrown out by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The 3rd Circuit Court ruling was in response to a challenge from David Ritter, who was a Republican judicial nominee from Lehigh County. Ritter lost to his Democrat challenger in 2021 by a small margin of five votes. Ritter argued that the outcome of the election might have been different if the 257 updated ballots were not counted. When this Pennsylvania law was challenged, the 3rd Circuit Court ruled that this requirement was “immaterial” to a person’s voting eligibility.
Initially, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Ritter’s appeal back in June, and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the decision writing that the ruling “could well affect the outcome of elections this year.”
The Supreme Court on Tuesday again vacated the case, tossing out the 3rd Circuit ruling and delivering Ritter a big victory. Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson were unhappy with the SCOTUS’ ruling.
With the majority of the votes in from the Supreme Court, it is now established that the 3rd Circuit decision can no longer be part of the election law in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey as these are the three states under the 3rd Circuit jurisdiction.
Soon after the SCOTUS decision was made public, Pennsylvania’s Democrat Acting Secretary of State, Leigh M. Chapman released a statement expressing her disappointment and stated that the SCOTUS decision does not affect the 3rd Circuit ruling “in any way.”
“Today’s order from the U.S. Supreme Court vacating the Third Circuit’s decision on mootness grounds was not based on the merits of the issue and does not affect the prior decision of Commonwealth Court in any way,” Chapman wrote. “It provides no justification for counties to exclude ballots based on a minor omission, and we expect that counties will continue to comply with their obligation to count all legal votes.”
Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballots for the November midterms already have the instructions reading “today’s date is required” and that voters need to “sign a date” on their ballots, but Chapman believes that her ideologies are above the law.
Pennsylvania's mail-in ballot for the November midterms with clear instructions that mention filling up "today's date" pic.twitter.com/EhEAph2wgB
— Simon Miller (@SimonM_1776) October 15, 2022
This is not the first time that an attempt to disregard the commonwealth’s election code has taken place in Pennsylvania. Just recently, in the 2020 Presidential election, Democrat Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar issued an identical guideline that violated the election code.
Chapman’s statement complicates the election and ballot counting process in Pennsylvania as some of the 67 counties will now follow her directives and others going with the state law as ruled by the Supreme Court, repeating similar inconsistencies that were reported during and after the 2020 elections.
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