Judge Makes Change To Mail-In Balloting Rule

A federal court determined a major issue related to the use of mail-in ballots in November’s election following an extended legal battle. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled this week that mail-in ballots that do not have accurate handwritten dates would not be counted.

The 2-1 decision corresponded with conservative arguments before the court. The decision overturned an earlier decision allowing the dateless ballot as long as it was received on time.

Judge Thomas Ambro wrote in the court’s decision that the date was required under a Pennsylvania state law. He cited an earlier unanimous decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the “ballot-casting rule is mandatory; thus, failure to comply renders a ballot invalid under Pennsylvania law.”

The state law requires voters to “fill out, date and sign the declaration printed on [the] envelope.”

RNC Chair Michael Whatley said that the decision was a “crucial victory for election integrity and voter confidence in the Keystone State and nationwide.”

“Pennsylvanians deserve to feel confident in the security of their mail ballots, and this Third Circuit ruling roundly rejects unlawful left-wing attempts to count undated or incorrectly dated mail ballots,” he said.

The court decision could have a major impact on this year’s election. Polling has shown a close race between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, with Trump leading in a number of polls. Should the election be especially close, undated ballots could ultimately fall within the margin between the candidates.

In 2022 the state had 7,600 such ballots across twelve counties rejected due to incorrect or missing dates.

Pennsylvania emerged as one of the closest states in the last two presidential elections. Trump carried the Keystone State narrowly against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Trump showed a particular strength in the state’s rural areas and in former industrial areas.

Biden narrowly carried the state in 2020 after a bitterly contested campaign. The use of mail-in ballots in the state increased considerably during the coronavirus pandemic.