Supreme Court Sides With GOP Candidate in Pennsylvania Ballots Case
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with an unsuccessful Republican candidate for a Pennsylvania judgeship and threw out a lower court’s ruling that cleared the way for the counting of mail-in ballots in the race that he had sought to exclude.
David Ritter lost his 2021 bid for a seat on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas by just five votes after 257 absentee ballots he sought to exclude because they did not have a valid date on them were counted anyway.
The ruling vacates an earlier ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit of Appeals, which had said invalidating the undated ballots would violate a provision of the Civil Rights Act aimed at ensuring that minor ballot errors do not deny someone the right to vote.
Despite the legal victory, Ritter is still considered to have lost his election.
In his petition to the court, Ritter argued that mail-in ballot rules improve election administration and deter fraud.
He also warned the justices that if the 3rd Circuit ruling were allowed to stand, it could potentially “threaten to invalidate countless regulations of mail-in voting” nationwide.
The Civil Rights Act prohibits election officials from disqualifying a voter’s ballot for an error that is not “material” to determining whether the person was qualified to vote, such as their age or citizenship.
The law targeted practices common among election officials in the segregation-era South who relied on minor ballot mistakes to prevent Black people from voting.