Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued a stay order Tuesday blocking the decision of a federal appeals court that required the counting of undated ballots in Pennsylvania elections.
A state lawsuit challenging a 2021 local election in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, involved voters who submitted mail-in or absentee ballots without including the date. Pennsylvania law requires that the voter both sign and date his or her ballot.
The matter eventually ended up in federal court because one provision of federal voting-rights law, 52 U.S.C. § 10101, purports to limit what sort of information a state can require on a state ballot. A federal district judge ruled in favor of the state law.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed. A three-judge panel consisting of two Democrat-appointed judges and one Republican-appointed judge held that the relevant provision of state law violated federal law. The Philadelphia-based appeals court accordingly ordered that the undated ballots be counted.
While a local election in the Keystone State may not typically be a topic of national news, this ruling also has significant implications for other races. There are hotly contested races for governor and U.S. senator in the state. Currently, the top two candidates for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race, Mehmet Oz and David McCormick, are only a few hundred votes apart. And of course, Pennsylvania is a critical state these days in presidential elections as well.