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Court Stands By Decision Rejecting Undated Pennsylvania Mail Ballots, In Blow To Left-Wing Activists

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The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an attempt from left-wing organizations to have the court reconsider a ruling that found unelected bureaucrats were wrong to accept thousands of undated or incorrectly dated ballots during the 2020 election.

A three-judge panel for the 3rd Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision in March that any mail-in ballots that arrive in envelopes missing a date or with an incorrect date are invalid, upholding a state law and overturning a lower court’s decision.

Several left-wing organizations appealed the ruling by petitioning the court to review the decision en banc, a petition which was denied on Tuesday. It’s a big blow for Democrat operative and Russia hoaxer Marc Elias, whose group supported the lawsuit against the state law and which called it a “crucial” and “critical” case ahead of 2024.

Pennsylvania adopted universal mail-in balloting in 2019, with the law requiring voters to “fill out, date and sign the declaration printed on [the] envelope” before returning their ballot. But thousands of ballots mailed in during the 2020 presidential election and 2022 midterms “did not comply with the date requirement” as they were either missing dates entirely or had incorrect dates, the 3rd Circuit panel ruled in March.

Years earlier, a panel of judges for the court had ruled the date requirement was in violation of the Materiality Provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which stipulates a voter cannot be denied their right to vote due to a paperwork issue that is “not material in determining whether such individual is qualified.” That decision was later vacated after the Supreme Court issued its 2022 decision in Ritter v. Migliori.

The issue then ended up in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court where the judges ruled the ballots were invalid under state law and found they should not be counted. The court, however, was split as to whether tossing the ballots entirely would violate the Materiality Provision, so the judges directed county election boards to “segregate and preserve” those ballots — though they were still not to be counted.

Left-wing groups filed a suit last year which resulted in Erie-based U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter ruling that ballots with missing or incorrect dates should be counted so long as they are received by Election Day. Republican organizations, including the Republican National Committee, appealed the decision. The panel for the 3rd Circuit overturned Baxter’s ruling, admitting that while their immediate reaction would be to find that a “failure to date a return envelope should not cause his ballot to be disqualified,” their role was simply to determine when the Materiality Provision can be applied.

“We hold that the Materiality Provision only applies when the State is determining who may vote,” Judge Thomas Ambra wrote. “In other words, its role stops at the door of the voting place. The provision does not apply to rules, like the date requirement, that govern how a qualified voter must cast his ballot for it to be counted.”


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