Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has ordered state election officials not to count mail-in and absentee ballots arriving in envelopes that are undated or incorrectly dated.
The Tuesday ruling, which reportedly could affect thousands of ballots, came down a week ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections and is a victory for Republicans who filed a lawsuit in late October to force Pennsylvania to reject undated mail-in ballots.
The six-justice court, though, split evenly over whether the move not to count the ballots would run afoul of federal law, so the court directed officials to “segregate and preserve” them.
Opinions from the justices are expected to follow Tuesday’s order.
Multiple GOP bodies filed the lawsuit including the Republican National Committee, the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The order from the court directs election boards to “refrain from counting” any undated by-mail ballots.
Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh Chapman, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and a respondent in the case, argued that voters could be too easily disenfranchised for writing incorrect dates or no dates at all on the ballots.
The GOP lawsuit argued that mail ballots without a valid date should not be counted because state law requires a voter to provide a date. The lawsuit asked the court to, at a minimum, order counties to segregate undated or incorrectly dated ballots.
Republicans also accused Ms. Chapman of not following a U.S. Supreme Court decision and the Pennsylvania General Assembly by ordering county election boards to tally undated mail-in ballots.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel called the ruling “a massive victory for Pennsylvania voters and the rule of law.”
“Following an RNC, NRCC, and PAGOP lawsuit, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has made clear that incorrectly dated and undated mail ballots can not be counted. Republicans went to court, and now Democrats and all counties have to follow the law,” she said.
The RNC is presently involved in 75 lawsuits related to election integrity in 20 states this cycle. The GOP has found success recently in two cases.
In Michigan, Republicans won a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for restricting the rights of poll challengers, while in North Carolina the GOP won a case against the State Board of Elections for restricting the rights of poll watchers.
• Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.