Supreme Court Rules in Favor of GOP Judge Over Voter’s Mail-In Ballots…Could Affect Midterms
The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled in favor of a Republican Judge who lost his campaign for a court position due to ballots that should not have been counted.
David Ritter lost his 2021 bid for a position on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania to a Democratic rival by just five votes. Then it was made known that 257 absentee ballots were counted that did not have date notations on them.
The Supreme Court justices threw out a lower court’s ruling that had allowed the counting of the mail-in ballots in the race even without their dates of them. The vacated ruling was made by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
This move by the high court means that the 3rd Circuit ruling cannot be used as a precedent in three other states covered by this regional federal appellate court, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. So now all three of those states will not be allowed to count ballots that have flaws such as the voter failing to fill in the date.
Unfortunately for Ritter, vacating the ruling does not change his loss in the election.
Previously, the 3rd Circuit Court had ruled that invalidating the updated ballots would violate a provision of a landmark 1964 federal law called the Civil Rights Act. It focused on ensuring that minor ballot errors did not deny someone the right to vote. But under Pennsylvania law, voters are required to write the date on the outer envelope of a mail-in ballot. The Circuit Court decided that the requirement was “immaterial” to determine the voter’s qualifications. According to Ritter in his appeal, mail-in ballot rules improve election administration and help to deter voter fraud in elections.
Back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Ritter’s attempt to block the counting of the undated ballots. Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch dissented from that decision. In the prepared dissent, Judge Alito wrote that the 3rd Circuit ruling “could well affect the outcome” of elections this year. The midterm stakes as voters go to the polls on Nov. 8 will be whether the Republicans can seize control of Congress from the Democrats.
Ritter argued with the Supreme Court that unless the 3rd Circuit ruling was taken off the books, it would allow undated mail-in ballots to be counted in future elections in Pennsylvania. He said that this would “threaten to invalidate countless regulations of mail-in voting” nationwide. Pennsylvania Republican legislators agreed with Ritter’s warning.