Supreme Court Gives Pennsylvania More Time to Tally Some Votes

October 20, 2020 by Dan McCue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON – The absence of a tiebreaker on the Supreme Court will allow election officials in Pennsylvania to count some mailed ballots received up to three days after Election Day.

A 4-4 deadlock among the justices let stand a ruling by Pennsylvania’s highest court that allowed for the extended counting time.

It is the first case since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that the court deadlocked without a ninth member. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is expected to be confirmed by Sunday.

Pennsylvania is considered a key battleground state in the 2020 presidential election and the results there will be closely watched until all ballots are counted.

Four justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr., Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — voted in favor of staying the lower court’s ruling, while four — Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — voted to uphold it.

Neither side explained the rationale behind their positions.

As for the underlying case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the three-day extension was necessary because of the coronavirus pandemic and delays in mail service.

It ordered the counting of all ballots clearly mailed on or before Election Day, and those with missing or illegible postmarks, unless “a preponderance of the evidence” showed the ballot was mailed after Election Day.

The ruling appears to be a victory for Democrats in Pennsylvania, who tend to vote by absentee ballots far more often than Republicans.

As of last Friday, Democrats in Pennsylvania had requested 1,755,940 ballots, and Republicans had requested 672,381, according to the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office.

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