AG to File Brief Challenging PA Decision on Absentee Ballot Deadline
Mike Seals - November 9, 2020 10:04 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced his intention to file a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging a court decision rewriting Pennsylvania’s absentee ballot receipt deadline.
The brief argues that under the Constitution, state legislatures must choose the point to stop receiving absentee ballots and start counting votes, not state courts such as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Pennsylvania voters had 50 days to return their absentee ballots to ensure they were received by Election Day. Failure to do so was not the fault of state election law. The brief points to other courts that have upheld Election Day receipt deadlines, both before and during the pandemic, including Oklahoma.
Attorney General Hunter said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court improperly repealed the state legislature’s deadline by writing in a new postmark deadline with an arbitrary three-day-after-Election-Day cutoff.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court acted in a legislative capacity when it changed the election rules,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution is clear – it is the duty of the legislative branch of each state that determines election rules. State election deadlines give the public the ability to quickly know the results of the election and promotes confidence in those results. Changing the rules of the election right before voting starts robs the state of being able to set its own election laws and causes confusion among voters. We encourage the U.S. Supreme Court to review this case without delay.”
The decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has consequences that could have a national ripple effect in future elections, the brief reads. It has created chaos that makes it impossible for state legislatures to know in advance whether the election rules they have enacted will or will not be reimagined by courts.
“Review is warranted now, even after the election, to secure the constitutional framework for our most fundamental democratic processes,” the brief concludes.
The U.S. Supreme Court need not wait for the next election cycle to precipitate yet another deluge of litigation allowing state courts to once again amend state law right before the election—and for the beneficiaries of these unconstitutional actions to argue that there is once again not enough time for this Court’s careful review on the merits.
The brief will be publicly available as soon as possible, here: https://bit.ly/3n9CL5z.
Defense of State Voting Laws Around the Country
After hundreds of lawsuits in almost every state sought to change voting laws during the 2020 election, Attorney General Hunter argued and won favorable rulings in numerous states, including Oklahoma.
In Georgia, Attorney General Hunter led a coalition of 19 states supporting Georgia’s law requiring, like Oklahoma, that all absentee ballots be received by Election Day.
The attorney general also made similar arguments in other states, leading a 17-state coalition in support of Indiana’s absentee ballot receipt deadline and an 18-state coalition in support of Pennsylvania’s deadline earlier at the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Indiana’s deadline.
In Alabama, Attorney General Hunter led a 15-state coalition in support of Alabama’s laws that require witnesses or notary signatures to verify the identity of voters casting absentee ballots.
The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed and allowed Alabama’s verification law to continue during the November 2020 election.