Supreme Court denies GOP challenge of ballot counting extension in Pennsylvania

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has, once again, handed the Democrats a legal victory.

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Republican-led effort to block a ballot-counting extension for the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Fox News reported.

The Supreme Court currently only has eight members as a result of the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In this particular case, the judges split 4-4 with Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh — the so-called conservatives — voting in favor of granting the application, and Roberts and the rightly-called liberal justices voting against it.

When such a tie occurs, the ruling of the lower court stands.

The ruling

Here, the lower court is the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. According to the Washington Examiner, the state court had ruled that state voting officials are allowed to receive and count mailed-in ballots through November 6th, three days after the November 3rd election.

In fact, the Pennsylvania court ruled that the ballots don’t even have to be postmarked to be counted. Rather, all that is needed is proof that it was not mailed after the polls closed.

This case got underway after Pennsylvania Republicans challenged the extension. Their argument was twofold: that such an extension violates federal law — namely, the one that sets Election Day as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November — and that any changes ought to be in the hands of the legislature, not the judiciary.

These arguments, however, were rejected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and, with the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court splitting, the end result is that the three-day extension is now a reality.

Reactions

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party celebrated the decision. The group’s chairwoman, Nancy Patton Mills, called it “a significant victory for Pennsylvania voters.”

However, Lawrence Tabas, the chairman of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party had a different take.

“It only underscores the importance of having a full Supreme Court as soon as possible,” he said. “To be clear, the Supreme Court decided not to grant a stay — which does not mean the actions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would withstand a legal challenge to their judicial overreach should the court hear the case.”

Whether or not to allow a ballot acceptance and counting extension has been a hot button issue in recent months. The Examiner reports, “Most states make Election Day the deadline, but 18 states, half of which backed Trump in the 2016 election, have a post-Election Day deadline.”

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