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PA Supreme Court: Signatures Don’t Have to Fit Mail-In Ballots

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The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has released a decision banning election officials in that state from denying – or disqualifying – mail-in ballots because the signatures on the ballot declaration do not fit the signatures on the register.

In its 30-page opinion, the courts ruled that, as written, the election law applicable to mail-in ballots does not “allow or compel” the electoral authorities to act on ballots where the signatures do not match what is on file with the electoral authorities.

“We conclude that the Election Code does not allow or compel the county election boards to refuse absentee or mail-in ballots during the canvassing period on the basis of an interpretation of the voter’s signature on the ‘declaration’ found in the official ballot return envelope for absentee or mail-in ballot,” the judges wrote.

New today: The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that state election law does not allow mail-in ballots to be disqualified because of signature match issues. It’s a setback for Trump’s campaign and the RNC, which intervened in the https:/t.co/OkMkKn3cWZ case pic.twitter.com/XihnPt92dV

The ruling comes as a result of the efforts of Kathy Boockvar, the State Secretary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to avoid the rejection of untrue signature ballots. Boockvar argued that the denial of the ballots in question presents a “significant risk of disenfranchisement on an arbitrary and completely subjective basis.” Boockvar further argued that by refusing such ballots, the state did not allow the voters the opportunity to certify their signatures before their ballots were rejected.

Although Trump’s campaign argued that the statutory election code requires election officials to match all details on mail-in ballot envelopes – including the signature of the elector – with details on the file of the elector, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania disagreed.

“[i]n the contrast of a declaration against such lists, the county board can decide only if the name and address details of the elector on the ballot envelope corresponds. These lists do not contain any signature details for county election officials to compare with the signature of the elector on his declaration; thus, in compliance with the plain language of the Election Code, such lists can not encourage the comparison of signatures Intervenors are needed to preserve, “the courts wrote.

The State of Pennsylvania will receive more than 3 million mail-in ballots during this voting cycle; more than 10 times more than in 2016. Pennsylvania stands for 20 seats in the all-important Electoral College.

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