The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Pennsylvania can count mail-in ballots until Friday after Election Day, despite Republican objections.
The high court denied a GOP request to fast-track a decision on blocking vote counting after Nov. 3 – meaning that as long as ballots are postmarked by Election Day, they can arrive three days after Tuesday and still count.
Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C., will allow ballots to be counted after Election Day as long as they are postmarked on time.
The vote was 5-3. Justice Samuel Alito, along with the court’s two other more conservative members, wrote that they would have liked to issue a ruling but there wasn’t enough time.
“I reluctantly conclude that there is simply not enough time at this late date to decide the question before the election,” Alito wrote.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed one day earlier, did not partake in the ruling. The Luzerne County Board of Elections had requested she recuse herself from the case on Tuesday.
Alito, along with Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, held hope that the court could still act on the GOP request for a ruling on the merits before Tuesday.
“Although the Court denies the motion to expedite, the petition for [appeal] remains before us, and if it is granted, the case can then be decided under a shortened schedule,” Alito wrote.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, claiming emergency jurisdiction, last month extended the deadline for mailed ballots to be received by election officials until Nov. 6. The court cited in its ruling the potential for mail delays and the fact state law technically allows mail-in ballots to be cast on Election Day, something that would make the USPS delivering them on Election Day impractical.
Republicans accused the state Supreme Court of exceeding its powers and unconstitutionally making a unilateral move to change election law. They argued such a decision constitutionally belongs to lawmakers, not the courts.
State Republicans filed the case last Friday after the justices were split 4-4 on putting a hold to the extension.