Supreme Court Ruling Means We Probably Won’t Know Who Won Pennsylvania Until Days After Election
Pennsylvania is the state most likely to decide next week’s presidential election, but a Supreme Court ruling this week has all but guaranteed that we won’t know who won the Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes on Election Day.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a Republican effort to force Pennsylvania to discard mail-in ballots received after Election Day, but the high court left open the possibility of re-hearing the case after the election if those ballots could alter the outcome. Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered counties to accept and count ballots that arrive through November 6, three days after the election, even if those ballots don’t contain postmarks showing when they were mailed.
If the election in Pennsylvania is close—and if the overall results hinge on who wins Pennsylvania—those late-arriving ballots are likely to end up being 2020’s version of the infamous “hanging chads” that defined the 2000 presidential election in Florida.
In a statement announcing the court’s decision on Wednesday (no formal opinions were issued), Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch said that “it would be highly desirable to issue a ruling” on the Pennsylvania ballot rules before the election, but that the court decided “there is simply not enough time” to give the issue a proper hearing “at this late date.”
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s secretary of state issued new guidance to county-level election offices on Wednesday instructing officials to keep late-arriving ballots separate from absentee ballots that arrive before or during Election Day.
That should help avoid some of the potent
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