According to new statistics from Pennsylvania’s elections department, an early November state court ruling that prohibited mail-in ballots without precise handwritten dates on their exterior envelopes led to invalidating otherwise lawful votes.
The Department of State reported that county officials disqualified more than 16,000 mail-in ballots because they lacked confidentiality envelopes, valid signatures, or dates.
More than two-thirds of the total number of canceled votes were cast by Democratic voters, who are significantly more prone to do so.
The organization said that 8,250 Pennsylvania mail-in ballots were rejected because they were not enclosed in a secrecy envelope when sent in, making it difficult to tally them without jeopardizing voter privacy.
The remaining 7,904 illegitimate ballots were discarded because the outside envelopes they were sent in either lacked the voter’s signatures or were improper or incorrectly dated.
While not all counties did so, many did collaborate with voters to “cure” dated ballots.
The number of rejected ballots now being provided by the Department of State does not include those fixed ballots counted.
Some voters may be unaware that their mail-in ballots in the crucial November election were rejected.
Ellen Lyon, a spokesperson for the Department of State, stated that “in many counties, voters who provide their email address when requesting a postal ballot automatically receive email notifications with status updates on their ballot, including whether or not their ballot was canceled.”
This past election season, Pennsylvania Democrats managed to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, elect Attorney General Josh Shapiro to the position of governor, and win just enough state House elections to restore majority control by one vote.
But because Democrats used mail-in ballots more than Republicans, Independents, or Third Party voters combined, more of their votes were invalidated. 10,920 Democratic votes were invalidated, almost half of them for not having secret ballot envelopes.
3,503 Republican ballots were thrown out. One thousand seven hundred thirty-one votes cast for independents and third parties did not count in the fall election.
Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf attempted to work out an agreement on a larger package to address several election-related concerns, but their talks fell through.
The dates on the envelope’s surface are unnecessary because the county election workers who receive and clock in the ballots will ensure that they arrive on time.
Republican lawmakers have argued that the rules are necessary for security and confidentiality.
The third U.S. Despite the Circuit Court of Appeals’ May decision that the dates were unnecessary and labeled them “immaterial,” the U.S. The Supreme Court then declared that ruling to be moot.
An additional federal lawsuit against the secretary of state and county elections boards is continuing regarding the incorrect or missing envelope dates.
It asserts that voters who are “much older than both other Pennsylvanians who voted by mail and all registered Pennsylvania voters” are more affected by imposing the date requirement.
Shapiro won the governor’s election by about 15 points over Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who garnered more than 187,000 mail-in votes, with just over 1 million mail-in ballots, or approximately a third of his total.
Less than 19,000 independent or third-party mail-in votes were cast in the governor’s election.
To ensure that more votes are counted, Marian Schneider, senior voting rights policy counsel for the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, stated that the state legislature needs to be clarified more.
The total may represent a small part of all votes cast, yet it may be enough to decide the outcome of a close contest.
Schneider stated that 16,000 people’s votes were still disregarded. “You’d want to prevent it, wouldn’t you? ”
Ballots without correctly dated envelopes have been the subject of litigation since mail-in voting was greatly expanded in Pennsylvania under a 2019 state law, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled a week before the November election that mail-in votes may not count if they are “contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes.”
The judges disagreed 3-3 on whether it would be against U.S. law for states to make the envelope dates mandatory.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits the exploitation of inconsequential mistakes or omissions to thwart voting.
The tie meant that the date requirement was still in effect.
The court has not yet published a formal ruling outlining its justification for directing county officials to “segregate and preserve” the canceled ballots.