(The Center Square) – The nation’s highest court left standing a lower court’s decision that mail-in ballots received after Election Day in Pennsylvania should be counted.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the panel’s three liberal judges in a 4-4 vote that rejected state Republicans’ appeal of a lower-court ruling affirming the same. 

Last month, the state Supreme Court said that ballots postmarked Nov. 3 and received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 should be counted – delivering a win to Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative Democrats who stalled election reform talks, in part, over Republicans’ unwillingness to budge on extending the deadline. The two parties can’t come to terms on an appropriate pre-canvasing window, either, meaning officials can only begin processing mail-in ballots on the morning of Election Day – likely causing delayed results. 

Republicans requested a stay of the state Supreme Court ruling last month over concerns that ballots cast after Nov. 3 would be counted among the results. Roberts said officials can count only ballots postmarked for Election Day or earlier – but those without any postmark at all should be considered on time, unless strong evidence to the contrary exists.

Last month, the state Supreme Court said that ballots postmarked Nov. 3 and received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 should be counted – delivering a win to Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative Democrats who stalled election reform talks, in part, over Republicans’ unwillingness to budge on extending the deadline.

In their appeal filed last month, Republicans argued that legislators, not courts, should decide a state’s election laws. The Supreme Court ruling agreed, in part, by declining to consider the case and allowing the state’s decision to stand.

Nearly 1.8 million residents have requested absentee ballots ahead of Nov. 3 and about half have been returned, so far. 

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said he supports the federal court’s decision “not to meddle in our already working system.”

“Pennsylvania voters deserve clarity and confidence in our election process – and tonight’s ruling from the United States Supreme Court makes clear our law will stand despite repeated attacks,” he said. “Pennsylvanians can continue to use drop boxes and ballots postmarked by Election Day will have extra time to arrive at election offices.”

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.

This piece was originally published in The Center Square. Read the original article here.

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