The Supreme Court on Friday waded on into the controversy involving mail ballots that arrived after Election Day in Pennsylvania. The apex court ordered the Pennsylvania election board to count ballots that arrived after Election Day separately. However, it rejected the Republican Party’s request to stop the vote count.
Conservative Justice Samuel Alito signed off the order. This latest development is in line with fears by observers that the court may be inclined to exclude entirely all ballots that arrived late. Justice Alito has previously signaled such a possibility.
The number of affected ballots in question is between 3,000 and 4,000. However, experts said that this development would not impact the general outcome of the election. As it stands, Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by over 3 million votes nationally. According to the experts, the ballots from Pennsylvania only begin to take a more significant role if the state was to play a decider between the two candidates, and both were separated by a narrow margin.
This will be the first time that the Supreme Court will interfere with the vote count in a state after Election. Justice Alito was quick to remind Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar (Dem.), the respondent in the case, to file a response on a date no later than Saturday at 2 pm.
Pennsylvania’s Republicans had brought the lawsuit before the Supreme Court, challenging the state’s extension of its mail ballot deadline to Friday. The party asked the court to stop all late-arriving ballots from being counted.
A law professor at the Ohio State University, Ned Foley, said that the status quo would remain until the court gives any new orders. He also said that it does not stop the counting of separate votes but only required that they be counted differently, which he interpreted as the right thing to do to prevent the merging of votes that could cause further controversies.
Although Boockvar had previously ordered the segregation and separate counting of late-arriving votes, Justice Alito said that either party had been unable to confirm the level of compliance of this order.
The current lawsuit is one of several others filed in the months leading to the election, whereby the due date for the mail-in ballot in Pennsylvania was contested. The dispute eventually arrived at the Supreme Court.
While the democrats sought a relaxed accommodation all over the country for the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic, the delay by postal service, and other such unforeseen incidents, the Republicans will not be swayed, insisting that strict voting limits and guidelines be followed.
Back in October, the court had denied the Republican Party’s request to hasten the hearing of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that upheld the state’s mail ballot due to date extension. Chief Justice John Roberts had joined three liberals in denying the GOP their prayer.
Conservative Justices Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch had said they considered the Pennsylvania state court as overreaching on its decision, thereby breaching the constitutional role of the legislature over state elections.
Trump’s campaign seeks to join the suit in support of the court’s grant of the Republican Party’s petition for appeal.