The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued three significant rulings on Thursday, extending the state’s mail-in ballot deadline, preventing third parties from delivering absentee ballots in the state and removing the Green Party Candidate from the presidential election ballot.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enacted Act 77 in 2019, which allowed qualified voters to vote by mail, without requiring a demonstration of absence from the voting district on Election Day. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party filed a suit asking the court to issue declaratory and injunctive relief “so as to protect the franchise of absentee and mail-in voters.”
The court concluded that a three-day extension of absentee and mail-in ballots is appropriate in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy will count votes that are postmarked by 8:00 PM on Election Day, November 3 if received by the country boards or election on or before 5:00 PM November 6. Ballots that are received within his time period without the postmark will be presumed to be eligible unless there is evidence to show that they were mailed after Election Day.
The court also rejected petitioners claim that the Secretary of State, Kathy Boockvar, failed to “remove barriers to voting by mail by not allowing voters to obtain third-party assistance in return of mail-in ballots.” The law of the Commonwealth is such that it prevents the third-person delivery of absentee ballots.
In a final opinion issued by Justice Wecht, it was determined that Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins could not remain on the ballot as the party’s nominee for president. Hawkins failed to follow the procedures for nominating a candidate after he was named Scroggin’s substitute for president. More specifically, “Scroggin failed to comply with the Election Code’s strict mandate that she appended an original affidavit to her nomination paper, and the party’s use of Hawkins’ affidavit while presenting a nomination paper in which he was not named therein did not suffice to cure that error.”