GOP hopes to force Pennsylvania to reject undated ballots in last-minute lawsuit
The Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and Pennsylvania GOP have filed a last-minute lawsuit arguing the state is illegally dodging state law and a Supreme Court ruling by saying it will count undated absentee ballots.
The suit was filed just weeks before a hotly contested race between Dr. Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman in the upcoming general election Nov. 8.
According to the GOP groups, Leigh Chapman, the Democratic acting secretary of state for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, defied a U.S. Supreme Court decision and the Republican-majority Pennsylvania General Assembly by directing county election boards to count undated mail-in ballots.
The GOP complaint was filed with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Oct. 16, just three weeks shy of the general election, saying, “The time for the Court to act is now.”
“As the Pennsylvania legislature and U.S. Supreme Court have made clear, undated mail-in ballots should not be counted.” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer and PAGOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas said in a joint statement.
“Republicans are holding Pennsylvania Democrats accountable for their brazen defiance of the Supreme Court and the rules duly set by the legislature.
“Pennsylvania Democrats have a history of election integrity failures, and Pennsylvanians deserve better. This lawsuit is the latest step in Republican efforts to promote free, fair and transparent elections in the Keystone State.”
The lawsuit follows a U.S. Supreme Court order Oct. 11 that vacated a Third Circuit decision that ordered the counting of ballots submitted in undated envelopes in Pennsylvania.
In a statement reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision, Chapman maintained, “Every county is expected to include undated ballots in their official returns for the Nov. 8 election.” She said the decision 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.”
The GOP groups argue the General Assembly already “has mandated that a voter who uses an absentee or mail-in ballot ‘shall … fill out, date and sign the declaration’ printed on the outer envelope of the ballot.”
They also cite a previous majority decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that held “any absentee or mail-in ballot that does not comply with the General Assembly’s date requirement is invalid and cannot be counted in any election after the 2020 general election.”
The lawsuit asks the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to order state officials not to count undated absentee ballots.
Pennsylvania is no stranger to election ballot drama. It was one of the states former President Trump accused of sloppy implementation of its laws. Trump argued GOP poll watchers didn’t have “meaningful access” to the process of counting votes and that some votes were altered to help opponent Joe Biden in 2020.
Should the state Supreme Court reject the GOP request, the case could make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.