After a week of counting votes, Mehmet Oz’s lead in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primaries fell to 992 votes. Down, go down, and where it stops no one knows. Pennsylvania’s slow handling of absentee ballots is bad enough, but every time margins shrink, it increases the likelihood that this will turn out to be a bigger vote-by-mail failure. .
As of Monday, numerous ballots had been broadcast, including 2,000 provisional ballots from both parties in Allegheny County. It was a stronghold for Mr. Oz’s rival, David McCormick. The two sides are also toying with each other about mail-in ballots that voters have ignored so far. Mr. McCormick wants them counted, as he won 32% of the vote-by-mail vote statewide, compared with 23% for Mr. Oz, who is urging the opposite.
Two years ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that undated ballots were invalid, even if they arrived on time. State law explicitly states that voters must “fill out, date, and sign” the ballot envelope. However, five Pennsylvanians who can’t seem to understand the basic instructions sued in federal court after their undated ballot was rejected in last year’s judicial election.
On Friday, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that those unspent 2021 ballots be counted. The Judiciary Panel did not release its full opinion, but its ruling cited the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law forbids officials from throwing out ballots with minor flaws,” he said. if such error or omission is not material in determining whether the individual is qualified under State law to vote.” In the opinion of Third Track, handwritten dates are Missing on a timely ballot is “not important.”
Now, counties are having a hard time reviewing unspent ballots from last week’s primary vote. Do they give such votes, as the state Supreme Court said? Do they follow the Third Round’s view on a 2021 election, even though the ruling could be appealed?
The numbers look small, but they are likely to be decisive if Mr. Oz’s lead continues to fall. Allegheny County says it has 42 undated GOP ballots. Montgomery County has 46, which will remain “unopened while we await guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of State and any potential legal action.” What if some counties count undated ballots and others do not?
The worst outcome would be if a federal court chose the winner. In any case, state legislatures should not be waiting for scenarios like this to unfold someday, somewhere. Indefinite ballots and the like are new hangman stories, a source of uncertainty, electoral poison. If they overturn the result, both sides can argue that they won.
As for the Third Circuit’s argument, does it apply to other idiots? Pennsylvanians were supposed to put their ballots by mail in unmarked secret envelopes, inside return envelopes. If a “bare ballot” is submitted, it will be rejected. In 2020, the state Supreme Court upheld that law. Would the Third Circuit call the envelope bug “non-critical”? Allegheny County had 658 blank ballots for both parties. Another 14 had “identification marks on secret envelopes.”
With any luck, the U.S. Supreme Court will deal with the Third Circuit mess, and state legislatures will act before 2024 to clear up the messy laws of past voting. letters. But if that fails, pay more attention to the chaos in the vote count and the public’s suspicion of the election results.
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https://www.wsj.com/articles/mehmet-oz-vs-david-mccormick-on-ballot-rejections-undated-ballots-third-circuit-pennsylvania-primary-gop-11653341972 Oz vs. McCormick on Ballots in Pennsylvania’s Senate Race