Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. blocked officials from counting undated mail-in ballots — for now — after a Republican candidate for a county judgeship took his election fight to the high court.
David Ritter, who leads Democrat Zachary Cohen by 71 votes in their race for Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, asked the high court in a filing to halt a lower court’s decision that let officials count undated mail-in ballots, requesting the justices decide whether state election law runs afoul of federal law.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had set aside Pennsylvania’s law requiring mail-in ballots to be dated and signed, allowing potentially 257 undated ballots to be counted in the race between Mr. Ritter and Mr. Cohen.
At issue in the legal fight has been the date — not the signature — with undated ballots that arrived on time having been counted during the 2020 election due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state’s highest court had permitted the undated ballots to be counted in 2020 when mail-in balloting surged due to the pandemic. But the justices signaled the court would not allow the change in future elections.
The high court’s move could potentially affect the tightly watched GOP primary Senate race between celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and businessman David McCormick.
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Mr. Oz is in the lead by about 922 votes as of Tuesday, and his lawyers filed in support of Mr. Ritter’s petition, suggesting the undated ballots being counted could be a “Hail Mary” for Mr. McCormick.