Court Makes Game-Changing Ruling Right In Time For ’24 Election

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled in a major voting case that would affect Pennsylvania’s procedures for processing absentee ballots, providing a resounding confirmation of election integrity. The court rejected an en banc review of a previous ruling that maintained the validity of the date requirement for absentee voting by a resounding 9–4 vote. The decision effectively ends the argument for strict election laws by confirming that absentee ballots submitted after the deadline will not be counted.

In the lawsuit, a number of voter advocacy organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP branches, contested the rejection of absentee ballots that were not properly dated in accordance with state law. The appellants contended that the date requirement was an essential step in preserving the integrity and order of the voting process, and this included the Secretary of the Commonwealth and multiple county boards of elections.

“Pennsylvania, like all other States, has devised a web of rules that qualified voters must follow to cast a ballot that will be counted. Mail-in and absentee voters, for their part, must sign and date the declaration printed on the return envelope containing their mail ballot,” Judge Ambro wrote. “The date requirement, it turns out, serves little apparent purpose. It is not used to confirm timely receipt of the ballot or to determine when the voter completed it. But the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that dating the envelope is mandatory, and undated or misdated ballots are invalid under its state law and must be set aside.”

“The provision does not apply to rules, like the date requirement, that govern how a qualified voter must cast his ballot for it to be counted,” the court wrote. “Accordingly, we reverse the District Court’s decision and remand for further consideration of the pending equal protection claim.”

Following the ruling, Pennsylvania now has comparable absentee ballot laws in place alongside a number of other states. Proponents frequently argue that these steps are required to protect against the possibility of voter fraud and to preserve public trust in election results. Many people believe that the decision upholds the legal structures that guarantee free and fair elections.

The most recent polling for Pennsylvania’s general election in 2024 provides an overview of the situation in this crucial battleground state. These surveys, which were conducted by Emerson College for The Hill and Nexstar between April 25 and 29, included 1,000 registered voters. President Joe Biden received 41% of the vote in one poll, while Trump received 45%, giving Trump a 4-point advantage. In a different study conducted around the same period, Biden came in somewhat closer to Trump (51% versus 49%), giving Trump a 2-point lead. It’s evident that Pennsylvania’s race is becoming hotter.

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