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Fetterman sues to validate thousands of invalid mail-in ballots

The Democratic candidate is trying to get undated or misdated votes validated, going against what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last month.

John Fetterman, Pensilvania

John Fetterman / Tom Wolf - Flickr.

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Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman filed an appeal in federal court in Pittsburgh to try to validate thousands of invalid votes under a state Supreme Court ruling. This is a desperate move on the basis that absentee voting is much more prevalent among Democratic voters than among conservatives.

Pennsylvania law states that voters must handwrite the date on the envelope when submitting their absentee ballots. The Democratic Party got a court to validate such mailings, but the state Supreme Court ruled last week that undated or misdated mail ballots must be separated and not counted. In addition, the court issued a follow-up order, indicating the specific date ranges that handwritten dates must fall within.

Absentee voting is more common among Democrats

According to The Inquirer, tens of thousands of votes could be rejected following the Supreme Court's ruling. Statistically, absentee voting is traditionally much more widely used by Democratic voters than by Republican voters. This explains why Fetterman and his team are so desperate to be able to count on these votes. Polls either show a technical tie between him and Mehmet Oz or even place Oz ahead.

The Democratic candidate's complaint argues that this is a technicality that does not serve to determine whether the vote was cast legally. "The date [requirement] imposes unnecessary hurdles that eligible Pennsylvanians must clear to exercise their most fundamental right, resulting in otherwise valid votes being arbitrarily rejected without any reciprocal benefit to the Commonwealth," they state.

First Amendment Violation

Moreover, according to the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court's ruling would violate the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. According to the Democrats, "a state may not use election practices that unduly burden the right to vote."

In addition to Fetterman's lawsuit, the Federal Court in Pittsburgh already had another complaint on the same grounds, and with virtually identical arguments. A coalition of voter rights groups turned to the Civil Rights Act's Materiality Provision to point out that counties should not be able to throw out undated or misdated ballots.

Long dispute in court

This is an argument that has already been successful this year. A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled rejecting these ballots violates the Materiality Provision. A state court proceeded to order a recount of undated mail-in ballots in the May primary. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this ruling last month. The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit on the matter, which resulted in last week's Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that both undated and misdated ballots cannot be counted.