Tuesday's temporary blockade by the U.S. Supreme Court prevented the counting of some Pennsylvania mail-in ballots. This order could have an impact on the tight Republican Senate primary between David McCormick, a former CEO of a hedge fund, and Dr. Mehmet O, renowned celebrity heart surgeon.
Justice Samuel Alito issued an order suspending a lower court ruling in a case over a dispute 2021 local election. This would have allowed for the counting of mail-in votes that were not handwritten.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia had ruled the requirement of a date next the voter's signature on return envelopes under the state election law was "immaterial". This ruling meant that such ballots could not be thrown out.
The state had instructed counties to count the ballots in the race between McCormick & Oz based on this ruling. McCormick immediately went to court to make sure that counties followed through.
The race is currently undergoing a statewide recount that will end on June 8. Oz was ahead of McCormick by 922 votes from more than 1.3million cast. This despite the fact that some counties have not yet counted every vote cast in the May 17 primary.
McCormick is looking for ballots to fill the gap with Oz. Alito's order could stop McCormick from suing Pennsylvania state courts.
The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, did not immediately announce Tuesday whether it would change its guidance for counties regarding how to handle the ballots.
Administrative stay is an action by the U.S. Supreme Court that freezes the matter so it can continue to consider the case. McCormick's deadline for McCormick's undertaking is not set and there is no time frame.
McCormick's campaign argued that Alito's decision does not affect their case in the state Commonwealth Court, and that the opinion of the federal appeals court "remains persuasive authority" regarding the federal Civil Rights Act provision upon which it based her decision.
McCormick has done better than Oz in mail-in votes. His campaign claims it has counted approximately 860 undated Republican mailin ballots from 65 of the state’s 67 counties. While it won't make McCormick a better candidate than Oz, counting the undated ballots could help narrow the race.
Some counties have already agreed that the undated mail-in ballots will be counted, while others are still waiting for legal clarity.
State law requires that voters write a date on the envelope they use to mail their ballots. The handwritten date cannot be used to determine if the ballot was cast in time. However, the envelope is timestamped by the counties and postmarked by the postal office when it arrives.
In all cases, the counties have accepted ballots that were not on their dates.
McCormick was denied an intervention request by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Tuesday after three hours of arguments were heard by a Commonwealth Court judge.
McCormick's Campaign asked for a hand count in 150 precincts in 12 counties. McCormick claimed it was targeting precincts with a high percentage of machine-read ballots but no votes in the Senate GOP primary. McCormick's campaign suggested that this could be due to electronic scanner errors.