U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court vacates ruling allowing counting of undated ballots; Dr. Oz had urged that result

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday vacated a federal appeals court ruling that allowed the counting of mail-in ballots in undated envelopes in a local judicial race in Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court granted the cert petition, vacated the decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Philadelphia and ordered the appeals court to dismiss the case as moot. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson would have denied the cert petition.

The 3rd Circuit had ruled that the ballots should be counted because the failure to fill out the date space on ballot envelopes was immaterial.

The Supreme Court allowed the filing of two amicus briefs in the case, including one by Dr. Mehmet Oz and his Doctor Oz for Senate campaign. Oz is a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. The brief urged “the restoration of Pennsylvania’s commonsense and constitutional date requirement for mail-in and absentee ballots.”

The Supreme Court had allowed the counting of the undated Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, ballots earlier this year in response to an emergency request. After finding no success in the courts, Republican judicial candidate David Ritter conceded the 2021 Lehigh County race to his opponent, according to his Sept. 9 reply brief.

Ritter had argued that his concession did not make the case moot. And he said his initial warnings that the 3rd Circuit decision would spawn unfortunate consequences “turned out to be a massive understatement.”

The state has sued three Pennsylvania counties for refusing to tally undated mail-in ballots, the brief said. Other litigants, meanwhile, have sued to invalidate all no-excuse mail-in voting on the ground that the 3rd Circuit decision triggered a nonseverability provision that voids the whole Pennsylvania law if any provision is struck down.

On Sept. 29, a Pennsylvania appeals judge refused to block Pennsylvania counties from allowing voters to fix defective mail-in ballots, according to prior coverage by Law360. Republicans are appealing that decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, according to another Law360 story.

Hat tip to Law360, Reuters and the Associated Press (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), which had coverage of the Supreme Court action.

The Supreme Court decision “will open the door for new lawsuits” over the ballot dating issue, according to the Associated Press.

The case is Ritter v. Migliori.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “SCOTUS allows counting of mail-in ballots in undated envelopes”

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