Supreme Court rules against counting undated mail-in ballots

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated an appeals court ruling that forced election officials in Pennsylvania to count mail-in ballots that did not have a date written on them in what could be a major victory for Republicans and for the future of election integrity.

The former ruling about counting undated mail-in ballots cost David Ritter a seat on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas when 257 undated ballots were counted in that county.

“The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit with instructions to dismiss the case as moot,” Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote.

Earlier in the year, the Court declined to allow Ritter to block the counting of undated ballots as an emergency action, but this ruling was made under the full consideration of the court.

Too late for Ritter

Vacating the ruling comes too late to help Ritter, but it could prevent future elections from being decided based on undated mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, the three states covered by the order.

Significantly, the order was signed by Sotomayor and Jackson, two very liberal justices.

Even they could see that it’s just too easy to fake and turn ballots in after the deadline when a preferred candidate seems to be losing a race.

Why do we have rules and deadlines if officials will not follow them?

Laws need to be followed

Republican legislators and conservatives in Pennsylvania filed amicus briefs in the case, suggesting that the existing ruling could threaten the integrity of the midterm elections this year.

Those who thought undated ballots should be counted argued that writing the date was a “meaningless technicality” and not doing so shouldn’t invalidate the person’s vote.

It is state law that the date must be written, however, and the justices ultimately decided that laws need to be followed.

It’s impossible to govern effectively any other way.