(CBrief) – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has banned the counting of misdated or undated absentee ballots in the November 8 midterm election.
In an order issued Tuesday, the court told the Pennsylvania county boards of elections “to refrain from counting any absentee and mail-in ballots received for the November 8, 2022, general election that are contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes.”
“The court said it was evenly divided on the issue of whether failing to count the undated ballots is a constitutional violation, and so it ordered that all the misdated or undated ballots be segregated and preserved by the county boards of elections,” Fox News reported.
“The RNC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Pennsylvania GOP filed the lawsuit on Oct. 16, arguing that the state is illegally dodging state law and a Supreme Court ruling by saying it will count undated absentee ballots. According to the GOP groups, Leigh Chapman, the Democratic acting secretary of state for Pennsylvania, had defied a U.S. Supreme Court decision and the Republican-majority Pennsylvania General Assembly by directing county election boards to count undated mail-in ballots,” the report added. “The state serves as the arena for a closely fought contest between Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz for a seat that could decide control of the U.S. Senate.”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel celebrated the ruling, calling it a “massive” legal victory.
“The PA Supreme Court agrees with us that incorrectly or undated mail ballots can not be counted in next week’s elections,” McDaniel tweeted. “Republicans went to court. Now Democrats have to follow the law.”
An election official in Pennsylvania last week warned voters not to expect to know the results of the midterm elections next month for days.
Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd earlier this week that state law says election officials cannot begin counting early ballots until Election Day, Nov. 8. Meanwhile, votes cast on Election Day cannot be counted until after polling places close at 8 p.m. local time.
“The best we can do is just manage expectations and let voters know that election officials need to do their job,” Chapman said. “They need to ensure that they’re counting every vote, and delays in results does not mean anything bad is happening. It doesn’t mean ballots are showing up out of nowhere. It’s because of that restriction where we can’t start preprocessing or canvassing those votes until election morning.”
One of the most closely-watched U.S. Senate races is taking place in Philadelphia, as Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Trump-backed GOP nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz face off in a race for retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat.
The contest has become especially noteworthy after Fetterman suffered a stroke earlier this year and has yet to fully recover. In fact, many have begun to question his cognitive abilities after an interview that aired earlier this month and a debate he had with Oz this week.
People on Capitol Hill, including Democrats, thought the performance of Fetterman was “painful to watch,” Axios reported.
Fetterman had difficulty speaking during the debate, and his campaign blamed the closed-captioning system provided for him as being “delayed” and “filled with errors.” Nexstar’s communications chief said both candidates were given a chance to test the system twice — but Fetterman chose to only do one rehearsal. Fetterman is still recovering from a stroke he suffered in May.
The host of the debate responded to the Fetterman campaign with fire, knocking down their excuses and stating the system worked as expected.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Fetterman is now criticizing the closed captioning process employed by Nexstar during tonight’s debate,” Nexstar communications chief Gary Weitman said in a statement.
Indeed, Fetterman’s debate performance was so bad that many on both sides of the political aisle are criticizing him.
“Why the hell did Fetterman agree to this?” a Democrat lawmaker and supporter of Fetterman said to Axios. “This will obviously raise more questions than answers about John’s health.”
Leland Vittert, a NewsNation host, said “the biggest issue was John Fetterman’s health and his ability to comprehend speech, and to then speak coherently on the issues of the day.”
“Everyone is nervous. I’ve traveled everywhere. Fetterman is a deep concern. And this debate will only increase it,” a Pennsylvania Democrat official said.
My lord, this may be the saddest moment I've ever seen on a debate stage. pic.twitter.com/4mSKqirry9
— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) October 26, 2022
“I wished Fetterman was in a better place to clap back. Overall, I argue it wasn’t great for us but still a draw. Remember in these next few weeks that Oz’s campaign is spending tens of millions of dollars against a man with a major medical condition,” another Democrat said in support of Fetterman.