Pennsylvania judge rules that secretary of state did not have authority to change mail-in ballot deadline

A Pennsylvania judge ruled in favor of the Trump campaign on Thursday that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar did not have the authority to change the mail-in ballot deadline and ordered that late ballots received should not be counted.

The state Supreme Court in September ruled to create a three-day mail-in ballot extension while loosening requirements that such late ballots have valid Election Day postmarks and signature matches. State law passed in March let the previous requirement that ballots be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day stand.

State law says that voters have until six days after the election, or November 9 this year, to provide identification to “cure” a mail-in ballot, but Boockvar changed that deadline to November 12 after the state Supreme Court changed the mail-in ballot deadline.

“Lacked statutory authority”

“[T]he Court concludes that Respondent Kathy Boockvar, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth, lacked statutory authority to issue the November 1, 2020, guidance to Respondents County Boards of Elections insofar as that guidance purported to change the deadline … for certain electors to verify proof of identification,” Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said in a court order.

The ruling is a huge win for the Trump administration in whether late ballots could be accepted or counted because of court rulings and rule changes from officials.

The U.S. Constitution says that only state legislatures are given the power to make laws to govern elections.

Conservatives hailed the ruling, which may not overturn or prevent enough votes to flip the state back to Trump, but will solidify rules for current and future elections so that rules can’t be arbitrarily changed.

The ruling will likely be appealed, and may end up before the Supreme Court for a final decision. The deadline to certify votes in Pennsylvania is November 23.

Will it be enough?

Only about 10,000 ballots were received in Pennsylvania after Election Day, according to election officials in the state.

Currently, Joe Biden leads Trump by about 50,000 votes in the state, but the campaign has other legal challenges pending.

The campaign has also claimed that hundreds of thousands of ballots were counted in the state without Republican poll observers present.

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