On Tuesday, a Pennsylvania judge issued a ruling, allowing undated mail-in ballots that arrive on time in the state to be counted in elections.
U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter issued the ruling, which is expected to be appealed in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before potentially going all the way to the Supreme Court, according to Politics PA.
“The Court has concluded that the Commonwealth’s mandatory application of its Date Requirement violates the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act,” Baxter wrote.
“Since the Court is confident that the Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment should be granted on that basis, there is no need to reach their constitutional claim (and) the Plaintiffs’ equal protection claim will be dismissed,” he continued
Baxter’s decision may prove critical in the 2024 presidential election, should it hold up in appeals, and could affect who takes they key battleground state.
In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court voided a lower court’s ruling in a similar case, relating to ballots for a Pennsylvania county judge’s race, following the concession of the Republican candidate.
Additionally, three Supreme Court justices, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, have indicated that they’re not convinced that disqualifying ballots for missing handwritten dates violates the Civil Rights Act.
The plaintiffs include the Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP and the Democratic Party’s campaign committees for U.S. House and Senate candidates.
They argued that not counting the undated ballots would violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act, prohibiting denying the right to vote “because of an error or omission” in any “application, registration, or other act requisite to voting if such error or omission is not material in determining” qualification to vote.
Democratic voters are the primary users of mail-in voting, which has led to significant Republican skepticism of the practice. Concerns surrounding mail-in voting spiked during the 2020 election, when the practice became the center of claims of voter fraud.
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