Pennsylvania will be a crucial state in the 2020 presidential election, and the arms of government are flailing to ensure a timely, democratic voting process.
It isn’t going smoothly.
The state Supreme Court is handing down ruling after ruling to fine-tune the mail-in balloting process, with legislators balking and battling at every step to ensure every vote is counted and that the process is as fraud-proof as possible.
Now, state Republican legislators have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a ruling by the state high court that would allow mail-in ballots to be counted if they’re received within three days of the election and are postmarked on or before Election Day.
The state court’s decision makes sense, given that a vote mailed two or more days before Election Day might not reach its destination in time to be counted because of current delays.
It goes without saying: Ballots cast on or before Election Day should be counted.
However, Republican lawmakers argue that this extension allows for residents to cast ballots after Election Day and that extending the window will sow confusion into the election process.
It’s a fair concern. Currently, the state court’s ruling allows a ballot to be counted “unless a preponderance of the evidence” indicates that the ballot was sent after the election.
This is unnecessarily weak language.
There are ways to verify whether voters mail their ballots on time. Most ballots will be postmarked, which should indicate whether the ballot was sent on time. Any residents worried about their votes being counted can visit a post office and have the ballot postmarked by hand.
Some states have been proactive about requiring intelligent bar codes or other more reliable forms of tracking. Pennsylvania should do the same.
Such a move would be essential in upholding the integrity of the voting process, particularly in terms of fairly and accurately cutting off those who cast their ballots late.
The court has already ruled that naked ballots — those that arrive without their secrecy envelopes — must be tossed out. And counties around the state are continuing to push for permission to process mail-in ballots before Election Day so that counting doesn’t bottleneck on Nov. 3.
Ballots that lack proof of being mailed by Election Day should not be counted.
Clarifying that ballots without a postmark or other proof that they were mailed on or before Election Day should not be counted would provide a compromise between the desire for counting all votes and maintaining fairness in the process.
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)