PA Supreme Court OKs Ballot Drop Boxes, Postmark Deadlines, In Win For Dems

At the Berks County Office of Election Services in the Berks County Services Building in Reading, PA Thursday morning September 3, 2020 where they are processing applications for mail-in ballots.
Reading, PA - September 3: A blank application for Mail-in Ballot with some of the applications that were already received. At the Berks County Office of Election Services in the Berks County Services Building in Rea... Reading, PA - September 3: A blank application for Mail-in Ballot with some of the applications that were already received. At the Berks County Office of Election Services in the Berks County Services Building in Reading, PA Thursday morning September 3, 2020 where they are processing applications for mail-in ballots. (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 17, 2020 1:44 p.m.

President Trump’s crusade against ballot drop boxes and other absentee voting practices that make the process easier was dealt a major setback Thursday with a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that permitted policies that will facilitate mail-in voting.

The court’s decision greenlighted the use of ballot drop boxes at locations other than county elections offices, and it said that ballots received in the three days after the Nov. 3 election could still be counted if they were postmarked by Election Day.

The case was brought in state court by Democrats as a way to head-off a federal lawsuit the Trump campaign had filed targeting the expanded use of drop boxes. Additionally, the state Supreme Court upheld Pennsylvania’s requirement that poll watchers be from the county where they’re staffed — another policy the Trump campaign is aiming to reverse in its federal case.

The judge in the federal case, a Trump-appointee, put the Republican lawsuit on hold while the Democratic lawsuit in state court was litigated.

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The Democrats did not get everything they wanted with the state Supreme Court decision issued Thursday. The Court denied the Dems’ request that election officials be required to provide an opportunity for absentee voters to fix deficiencies on their ballots. It also okayed the rejection of mail-in ballots that were missing a secrecy ballot, an approach Democrats oppose.

Earlier Thursday, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Green Party’s presidential candidate would not be included on November’s ballot, because the party did not comply with the state’s rules for submitting the candidate for ballot placement. The resolution of that dispute will allow Pennsylvania election officials to begin sending out mail-in ballots.

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