Pa. Supreme Court agrees to extend mail-in ballot deadline

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In a ruling that will greatly impact when Pennsylvania’s vote count is finalized this November, the state Supreme Court has granted the Democratic Party’s request to extend the deadline for postmarked mail-in ballots.

The high court, which has a 5-2 Democratic majority, agreed to extend the deadline until three days after Election Day.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. of Election Day, Nov. 3. They’ll be counted as long as they arrive by Nov. 6.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also authorized the use of satellite election offices and drop-off boxes, which Philadelphia and the heavily populated suburbs are planning to use to help relieve the pressure from an avalanche of mailed-in ballots expected in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Gov. Tom Wolf said his office is reviewing the decision, but overall, he welcomes it.

“It really makes the access to voting better,” he added.

The election-related lawsuit filed by Dems sought favorable fixes to glitches and gray areas in the battleground state's fledgling mail-in voting law, following issues will mail-in voting during the primary election.

The lawsuit requested that if there are any errors on a ballot, the voter must be contacted to correct it. However, the high court said that’s an issue for the state Legislature, not the judiciary.

It says the law is clear: If someone fails to use the so-called secrecy envelope — the envelope the ballot is returned in — that ballot can be tossed and not counted.

The ruling also determined that a state law requiring poll watchers to only serve in the counties they live in is in fact constitutional.

In a statement, Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that “laws have no meaning.”

“The current state election statute, which was signed by Governor Wolf less than a year ago, is clear that mail-in ballots must be received by 8:00 PM on Election Day in order to be counted,” his statement read. “Today’s blatantly political decision to violate the law irresponsibly heightens the risk that our state will experience a lengthy, disputed, and controversial outcome in what is expected to be an extremely close presidential race.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.