After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court provided county boards of election with guidance on how to count improperly dated mail-in ballots, state election officials say thousands of ballots are at risk of not being tallied.
According to the Philadelphia City Commission, more than 3,000 mail-in ballots with improper or omitted dates must be set aside in Tuesday’s election if voters do not fix their ballot by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said last week that ballots without proper dates, signatures or envelopes must be segregated from other ballots. County election officials were also urged to contact voters to correct their mistakes.
In a state considered a tossup in this year’s Senate election, Philadelphia has traditionally been one of the state’s most heavily Democratic areas. Also, Democrats were three times more likely to vote by mail than Republicans in 2020 in Pennsylvania.
As Pennsylvania could be the state that decides which party controls the U.S. Senate, it could take days to know who wins between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz. The state requires election officials to wait until polls close to begin counting mail-in votes.
The ACLU says that ballots that aren't properly dated by voters should still be counted.
"It's important that voters sign and date the return envelopes to guarantee that their ballot is counted," said Vic Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "Still, the court deadlocked on whether disqualifying ballots without a handwritten date on the return envelope violates federal law. We believe it does. No one should have their ballot discarded over a meaningless technicality."