Republican state attorneys general ask Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania late mail-in ballot case


Republican attorneys general from nearly a dozen states called upon the Supreme Court to intervene in a GOP lawsuit opposing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to extend the counting of mail-in ballots to include those that arrived up to three days after Election Day as long as they were postmarked by the time polls closed.

The attorneys general claim the Pennsylvania Supreme Court improperly overrode the wishes of the Republican-led Pennsylvania legislature.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed the “friend of the court” brief on behalf of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision overstepped its constitutional responsibility, encroached on the authority of the Pennsylvania legislature, and violated the plain language of the Election Clauses. Worse still, the decision exacerbated the risk of mail-in ballot fraud by permitting mail-in ballots that are not postmarked or have no legible postmark to be received and counted several days after the election,” the GOP claimed. “The decision provided a window of time after Election Day, when the preliminary results were announced, in which unscrupulous actors could attempt to influence a close Presidential election in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost separately called upon the Supreme Court to take up the case.

During a Monday press conference, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry told the Washington Examiner that mail-in ballots received after Pennsylvania's polls had closed were “illegal votes, and they should not be counted.” He said that “we’re seeing courts overstep” and that the state court “taking the position of legislators is problematic, … and we’re hoping the Supreme Court will weigh in.”

Pennsylvania Democrats said this weekend that the Supreme Court should not intervene in the state's vote count, insisting that late-arrival mail-in ballots are highly unlikely to impact the Pennsylvania vote, in which former Vice President Joe Biden has pulled ahead of President Trump by more than 40,000 votes. Many outlets have projected that Biden will win Pennsylvania and the presidency, but Trump’s legal team has vowed to fight on in court.

“I don’t know that to be true,” Missouri's Schmitt told the Washington Examiner when asked if tossing out the late arrival votes wouldn't change the Pennsylvania outcome. “I don’t think anybody knows that to be true.”

Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in a Friday night ruling ordered all of the county election boards in Pennsylvania to separate all late-arrival ballots from the rest of the mail-in ballots. Earlier Friday, the Pennsylvania Republican Party had called upon the United States Supreme Court to take up the case and to stop late-arrival votes from being counted.

Pennsylvania’s Act 77 allowed its voters to cast their ballots by mail but required that all mailed ballots be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court said in a 4-3 ruling that mail-in ballots could be counted so long as they were postmarked on or before Tuesday and were received within three days, likening the coronavirus pandemic to a “natural disaster” that justified the extensions.

“The United States Constitution is clear on this issue: The legislature sets the time, place, and manner of elections in America, not state courts or executive officials,” said Justin Clark, Trump's deputy campaign manager, on Wednesday.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, had filed a response on behalf of Kathy Boockvar, the secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, related to Trump campaign efforts, saying Saturday that “there is no evidence that any county is disobeying that clear guidance to segregate these votes, and the Republican Party offers only speculation.”

Boockvar’s office said Sunday that all of Pennsylvania’s counties had agreed to segregate all late-arrival mail-in ballots.

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