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GOP Loses at Supreme Court on State's Ballot Extension

Pennsylvania party says voters are requesting far more Democratic ballots
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2020 7:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Supreme Court will allow Pennsylvania to count ballots received up to three days after the election, rejecting a Republican plea. The justices divided 4-4 on Monday, an outcome that upholds a state Supreme Court ruling allowing election officials to receive and count ballots until Nov. 6, even if they don't have a clear postmark. Republicans, including President Trump’s campaign, have opposed such an extension, arguing that it violates federal law that sets Election Day as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November and that such a decision constitutionally belongs to lawmakers, not the courts. Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the three liberal justices to reject Pennsylvania Republicans’ call for the court to block the state court ruling, the AP reports.

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Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas would have required the state to stop accepting absentee ballots when the polls close on Nov. 3. There were no opinions accompanying the order, so it is impossible to say what motivated either group of justices. The conservative justices have been reluctant to allow court-ordered changes to voting rules close to an election. In Pennsylvania, the state Democratic Party and its allies had sought an extension of the Election Day deadline to count mailed ballots because Democratic-registered voters are requesting mail ballots at a nearly 3-to-1 ratio over Republicans. Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016, but by just 44,000 votes—less than 1%, per the Washington Post.

(Read more voting stories.)

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