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Mail-in Ballots in PA
Legal challenges will be abound after a new Supreme Court ruling. Photo: Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

What did the U.S. Supreme Court do to undated mail-in ballots in PA?

It set the stage for more legal battles as it vacated a federal appeals court decision to count them.

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On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the U.S. Supreme Court threw a legal wrench into the issue of undated mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania less than 30 days to go until the midterm elections, where the state’s outcomes will likely go a long way in determining the direction of the country.

Just 257 ballots from Lehigh County, Pennsylvania were in question when a federal appeals court previously ruled that despite being without a date, they should be counted during the 2022 primaries. 

The dating of ballots was seen as a technicality, given a whole range of dates could be written on the outside envelope and still be accepted. By rejecting them, the argument was that it violated federal voting rights laws and what’s called the “materiality provision” of the Civil Rights Act.  

Prior to that shockwave ruling, it was understood that undated ballots would not be counted. 

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has vacated that appeals court ruling that required undated ballots to be counted. The amount of mail-in ballots that could be affected now is in the millions given potential future legal action. 

Along with vacating the ruling, there was no reversal, or opinions or guidance offered on the issue of counted undated mail-in ballots in the state.

What’s left up in the air now given the Supreme Court’s decision, is if a prior Commonwealth Court decision ruling that undated mail-in ballots should be counted under both state and federal law, holds precedence.

The Commonwealth Court ruling was also in line with the Pennsylvania Department of State, which also sued during the 2022 primaries to have undated ballots counted from counties refusing to do so.

The issue of undated mail-in ballots is also yet another one where Democrats and Republicans sit on opposite sides of the aisle.

For Democrats, who have a much larger voter base that participates via mail-in ballots, the inclusion of undated ballots could have an election-deciding impact. For Republicans, where the practice isn’t as widely used, the inclusion of undated ballots could lead to more election losses.

In short, Republicans are surely going to sue in the coming weeks before Nov. 8 over the issue with the new Supreme Court-sized window they’ve been granted.

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