(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court may end up reviewing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to extend the deadline for mailed ballots to be received and counted in this year’s general election.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s House and Senate Republican caucuses asked the state’s top court for a stay so it can make an appeal to the federal court. Last week, in a split ruling, a majority of justices sided with the Democratic Party leaders who requested additional time for election officials to receive ballots.
In a statement, House Republican leaders called the ruling a highly partisan decision that ignores both state and federal constitutions and risks the integrity of the upcoming election.
“We believe the right to vote is not only fundamental, but that a secure, consistent, and reliable election system is paramount to having faith in the legitimacy of the government elected by it,” House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, and Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin said. “The election system approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is not found in current law and opens the door to diminishing everyone’s vote by fraud or misconduct.”
The ruling means mailed-in ballots will be counted by county election officials provided they’re received by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 6. The law had required all ballots, including mailed ones, to be received by 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 3.
The decision also calls for illegible or unpostmarked ballots to be counted unless evidence indicates the ballot was mailed after Election Day.
In its request for a stay, the GOP leaders told the state court that their decision violated federal law, which calls for the election to take place on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.
“It does this by forcing election officials to accept ballots received after election day even if these ballots lack a legible postmark. This permits ballots to be both voted and counted after election day, extending the General Election,” the Republicans wrote in their motion.
Pennsylvania is typically considered a bellwether state in presidential elections. Since 1972, the state has backed the Electoral College winner in 10 of the past 12 elections. President Donald Trump won the state and its 20 electoral votes by just more than 44,000 votes out of the nearly 5.9 million votes cast four years ago.
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, Democratic candidate Joe Biden leads Trump by an average of 4.6 points based on the polls its tracking.