Supreme Court puts counting of challenged Pennsylvania ballots on hold

The Supreme Court on Tuesday paused the counting of some mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania in a dispute that could affect the GOP primary contest for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

The order temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that instructed election officials in the Keystone State to count mail-in ballots that arrived on time but lacked a handwritten date. 

The dispute at issue, which concerns a contested 2021 judicial election, could have a broader impact on Pennsylvania’s Senate GOP primary between celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick.

The GOP primary headed to an automatic recount last week after tallies showed Oz leading McCormick by fewer than 1,000 votes. McCormick, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit asking Pennsylvania state court to order that some 860 mail-in ballots with missing dates be counted.

The Supreme Court’s order Tuesday came from Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency matters arising from Pennsylvania. He issued a brief administrative stay, allowing the court additional time to consider more formal action in the case. 

Alito’s order effectively halted a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which ruled last week that the undated mail-in ballots should be counted.   

“We are at a loss to understand how the date on the outside envelope could be material when incorrect dates — including future dates — are allowable but envelopes where the voter simply did not fill in a date are not,” Judge Theodore McKee, a Clinton appointee, wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. “Surely, the right to vote is made of sterner stuff than that.”

The winner of the GOP primary will face off in November against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D).

Tags Dave McCormick Mehmet Oz Samuel Alito

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