HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of State announced election changes and updates on Oct. 11, following the Supreme Court’s decision regarding mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a previous ruling from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that had decided undated or wrongly dated mail-in ballots should be counted.
Mail-in ballots have been the subject of multiple lawsuits since no-excuse mail-in voting became available in 2019. The Supreme Court ruling is sure to bring more litigation.
The Department of State is still advising counties to count those ballots, saying in a statement,
“Every county is expected to include undated ballots in their official returns for the Nov. 8 election, consistent with the Department of State’s guidance. That guidance followed the most recent ruling of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court holding that both Pennsylvania and federal law prohibits excluding legal votes because the voter omitted an irrelevant date on the ballot return envelope.
Today’s order from the U.S. Supreme Court vacating the Third Circuit’s decision on mootness grounds was not based on the merits of the issue and does not affect the prior decision of the Commonwealth Court in any way. It provides no justification for counties to exclude ballots based on a minor omission, and we expect that counties will continue to comply with their obligation to count all legal votes.”
Election officials are going to great lengths to shore up voter confidence in election integrity. All 67 counties must now conduct risk-limiting audits, a statistically-based audit to ensure the results are accurate.
The state has also added additional training for poll workers, in addition to the training required by counties. The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI were involved in the new trainings.
“We had one that was on insider threat training just a few weeks ago. We’re going to have one on de-escalation training very shortly,” said Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman.
One part of elections that has not changed: counties still can’t begin pre-canvassing ballots until 7 a.m. Election Day, and can’t begin counting them until polls close at 8 p.m. Unofficial results therefore will likely take several days to be known.
As of Oct. 11, 1.1 million voters requested mail-in ballots, including 821,181 Democrats and 213,204 Republicans. Since 72% of voters who requested mail-in ballots are registered Democrats, assuming they vote for their registered party, Democratic candidates will likely get a boost once those ballots are counted.