Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Certain Mail-In Ballots Without Declaration Dates May Be Counted
HARRISBURG (KDKA) - A major state Supreme Court decision on election law was handed down Monday afternoon. It comes on the last day for Pennsylvania's counties to certify election results with more lawsuits being filed today.
If you're confused by all these lawsuits over Pennsylvania lawyers, it's very confusing, even for a lawyer.
Over the weekend, the Trump campaign lost a federal lawsuit to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania, so on Monday the Trump campaign filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals, seeking a do-over by amending their complaint.
But at the same time, the state Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots could be counted even if certain information was not filled in on the outer envelope.
"This really was a great day for the voters of Pennsylvania," Cliff Levine, Democratic party attorney, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
The right of each citizen to vote is so important, said the court, that absent of showing fraud, you cannot disqualify a mail-in ballot just because the voter failed to date it or write his address on the outside envelope, as the Trump campaign and some other Republicans insisted.
"What the Supreme Court said was they were not going to let hyper-technical deficiencies disenfranchise the voters," added Levine.
That means, over 2,300 ballots in Allegheny County and many more in Philadelphia will be counted.
At the same, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Butler Republican, and Sean Parnell, the Republican candidate in the 17th Congressional District, asked the state's Commonwealth Court to strike down the entire no-excuse voting system as unconstitutional.
"The election was conducted illegally, unconstitutional method of voting," says attorney Greg Teufel, who represents Kelly, Parnell and the other plaintiffs.
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Teufel says the Republican legislature and Democratric governor had no constitutional authority to pass no-excuse mail-in voting used by 2.6 million Pennsylvanians this fall.
Teufel points to Article VII, Section 14, on "Absentee Ballots" which contains specific language that seems to limit absentee ballots to those outside their residences on Election Day or ill or physically disabled.
Levine, the Democratic attorney, called the claim "ridiculous" and pointed to Section 4 of the same article that seems to give the General Assembly authority to oversee methods of balloting.
So if Kelly and Parnell win this case, what's the remedy?
"In prior cases, the Supreme Court ordered that only the lawful votes be counted, not the mail-in ballots that were improper. In this case, the Court could do that," says Teufel.
If Pennsylvania's mail-in ballots were not counted, Parnell would defeat U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a Mt. Lebanon Democrat, and President Trump would win the state by 1.3 million votes.
Another remedy, said Teufel, would be to let this election stand and change future ones.
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