Pennsylvania state Republicans filed a petition with the Supreme Court Monday evening, pushing the now eight-justice high court to face their first challenge without the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
State GOP members have requested the Supreme Court review and reverse the recent decision by the Pennsylvania high court that granted a three-day extension for mail-in ballots following the close of polls on Nov. 3, The Hill first reported Tuesday.
Traditionally the battleground state required all mail-in ballots to be submitted by the end of day on Election Day.
Now mail-in ballots that are received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 will be accepted so long as they are postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
The Republican Party of Pennsylvania (RPP) took issue with Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruling that ballots received without postage or an indication of when they were mailed “will be presumed to have been mailed by Election Day,” unless there is proof of submission after the newly established deadline.
“The Court’s judgment … creates a serious likelihood that Pennsylvania’s imminent general election will be tainted by votes that were illegally cast or mailed after Election Day,” said the court filing by the RPP, echoing President Trump’s claims that mail-in voting will result in an increase of fraudulent ballots.
Trump and other members of the GOP have repeatedly claimed that the expected increase in mail-in voting will lead to invalid election results.
Pennsylvania's high court determined that they had the power to grant the new mail-in voting measures as Pennsylvania’s Election Code says that courts have the “authority to provide relief when there is a natural disaster or emergency,” in order to give residents the ability to exercise their right to vote.
The GOP has argued that as the state's General Assembly adjusted the state primaries in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but did not alter any deadlines surrounding the General Election, that it is not a necessity caused by the global pandemic – as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court argued.
“The Court should have upheld the received-by deadline and adopted the narrower remedy of altering the deadline for voters to apply for absentee or mail-in ballots,” the RPP argued, saying if anything there should be tighter restrictions around mail-in voting.
The court’s decision, which was seen as a win for state Democrats, comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which will likely lead to less American’s casting their vote in person – increasing the use of the mail-in ballot during the 2020 presidential election.
Pennsylvania, along with 18 other states and the District of Colombia, have granted deadline extensions to allow ballots to be counted even after the polls close.
Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania are swing states that voted red in the 2016 presidential election – they have also all permitted the acceptance of postmarked ballots that arrive after Election Day.
Though members of the GOP in several states are pushing against the easing of restrictions surrounding mail-in ballots, Trump actually applauded the state's decision to permit deadline extensions during a White House press briefing Friday.
“I think it’s going to be a terrible time for this country and we are counting on federal judges to do a great constitutional job,” Trump said after applauding Michigan and Pennsylvania’s decisions last week to grant ballot acceptance extensions.
Trump has repeatedly called mail-in voting a “scam” and questioned the security and legitimacy around the alternative method of voting, despite scant evidence of voter fraud in previous general elections, where over 40% of Americans voted by mail in 2016 and 2012, according to the Election Assistance Commission.
More than half of all Americans are expected to vote by mail this election because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Such last-minute changes by court order can engender widespread ‘voter confusion,’ erode public ‘confidence in the integrity of our electoral process,’ and create an ‘incentive to remain away from the polls’,” claimed the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
The RPP has requested the U.S. Supreme Court make a ruling by Friday.