Justice Alito orders post-Election Day ballots to be kept separate in Pennsylvania

There are signs that the United States Supreme Court may be getting ready to hear a key election case.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has ordered all county election boards in Pennsylvania to separate ballots received after the standard deadline from ballots received either on or before Election Day. 

“All county boards of election are hereby ordered, pending further order of the Court, to comply with the following guidance provided by the Secretary of the Commonwealth on October 28 and November 1, namely, (1) that all ballots received by mail after 8:00 p.m. on November 3 be segregated and kept ‘in a secure, safe, and sealed container separate from other voted ballots,’ and (2) that all such ballots, if counted, shall be counted separately,” Alito wrote on Friday, according to The Washington Examiner.

The case

Pennsylvania Republicans have challenged a three-day extension to the state’s ballot submission deadline. That extension was put forth by state officials, not the state legislature.

Pennsylvania Republicans argue that this is a violation of election law and that votes received after the standard deadline ought not to be counted. Their argument was rejected last month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Now they are seeking relief from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thus far, the Supreme Court has not accepted the Pennsylvania Republicans’ case, but Alito’s order suggests that they soon might.

Request granted

Alito was specifically responding to a request from the Pennsylvania GOP.

That request read, in part:

In particular, RPP asks the Court to order Respondents Secretary of State Boockvar and the county boards of elections to log, to segregate, and otherwise not to take any action related to any ballots that arrive after the General Assembly’s Election Day received-by deadline but before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s judicially extended deadline. Given the results of the November 3, 2020 general election, the vote in Pennsylvania may well determine the next President of the United States — and it is currently unclear whether all 67 county boards of elections are segregating late-arriving ballots.

At the time, it was clear that about 42 of those 67 county boards were segregating the ballots. But, it was unclear what was going on in the remaining 25.

Alito’s order looks to make sure that all county boards are now segregating the ballots.

It is still unknown whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the Pennsylvania Republicans’ case. President Trump and his legal team have moved to join that case. Pennsylvania is still a close race, and a decision from the Supreme Court on this key deadline extension issue could be the deciding factor in the 2020 presidential election.

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