MAJOR SCOTUS Ruling on Ballots

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that ballots with flaws in them, such as missing dates and signatures cannot be counted in Pennsylvania elections.

According to The Associated Press, the Supreme Court decided to vacate a previous ruling from the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as requested by David Ritter.

Mr. Ritter lost his 2021 election for a seat on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas to a Democrat by five votes after 257 un-dated absentee ballots were counted in violation of Pennsylvania law.

In their ruling, the court remanded the case back to the Third Circuit court which means the ruling cannot be used as a precedent in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the three states covered by the Third Circuit. Therefore, the counting of ballots with flaws such as missing dates is now illegal in those three states.

In June, SCOTUS ruled against blocking the un-dated ballots from the vote count, however, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

Justice Alito wrote that the 3rd Circuit decision “could well affect the outcome” of the midterm elections, which are slated for Nov. 8.

“When a mail-in ballot is not counted because it was not filled out correctly, the voter is not denied the right to vote,” Alito wrote. “Rather, that individual’s vote is not counted because he or she did not follow the rules for casting a ballot. Casting a vote, whether by following the directions for using a voting machine or completing a paper ballot, requires compliance with certain rules.”

The Washington Examiner reported that even though the Supreme court initially rejected Ritter’s petition, he filed a follow-up petition to the justices asking them to vacate the 3rd Circuit ruling, arguing the lower court ruling would have statewide implications.

The ruling comes just before the pivotal 2022 midterms which could see Republican State Senator Doug Mastriano win the governor’s office for the Republican party and potentially lead a blue-to-red flip in the state.

The U.S. Senate race of Trump-backed Republican Mehmet Oz against Democrat John Fetterman could also be impacted by the development. According to The Washington Examiner, Oz filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting the Ritter’s initial claim.

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