The Pennsylvania Department of State on Wednesday released a guidance document for mail-in and absentee ballots received after polls close at 8 p.m. ET on Election Day. While the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruled that elections officials have a three-day extension – until Friday, Nov. 6th at 5 p.m. ET – to count ballots postmarked on or before Election Day, the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have challenged the decision. Their hope is that the United States Supreme Court would rule in their favor.
Because of that, the Pennsylvania Department of State is advising polling officials to keep two different piles of mail-in and absentee ballots. They are to have one pile that “securely segregate[s] mail-in and civilian absentee ballots received by the county board before 8:00 p.m. on November 3 from those received via USPS after 8:00 p.m. on November 3 and before 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 6.”
County boards of elections are not to tally those ballots received between the time that polls close and the end of the three-day extension window. They are, however, to keep a log with the voter’s name, address, date of delivery, whether the ballot’s envelope has a legible postmark and the postmark’s date.
“The Department of State will promptly update the county boards of elections on how to pre-canvass and canvass the segregated ballots and of further developments related to the Court-ordered extension. County boards should remain alert for further direction regarding the ballots subject to the Supreme Court’s decision,” the guidance document concluded.
The Trump campaign celebrated the decision, calling it a “victory.”
“President Trump secured a big victory when the Pennsylvania Secretary of State saw the writing on the wall and voluntarily complied with our injunction request, segregating ballots received after the legislature’s November 3 deadline to ensure they will not be counted until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on our petition,” Justin Clark, Deputy Campaign Manager and Senior Counsel, said in a statement. “The Supreme Court deferred the important issue in this case—whether state courts can change the times, places, and manners of elections contrary to the rules adopted by the state legislature—until after November 3.”
Author: Beth Baumann