Pennsylvania Appeals Court Decides Envelopes of Mail-In Ballots Must Bear Dates

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court in Pennsylvania declared that mail-in ballots without correctly handwritten dates on their outer envelopes will be deemed invalid. The decision, passed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit with a 2-1 majority, overturns a previous ruling from November, with implications anticipated to impact this year’s elections in the pivotal battleground state, as reported by Fox News.

“This is a crucial victory for election integrity and voter confidence in the Keystone State and nationwide,” Michael Whatley, the chair of the Republican National Committee said in a statement.

“Pennsylvanians deserve to feel confident in the security of their mail ballots, and this Third Circuit ruling roundly rejects unlawful left-wing attempts to count undated or incorrectly dated mail ballots,” he added.

The lower court had concluded that mail-in ballots ought to be tallied even in the absence of accurate dates, as long as they arrived punctually.

The court contended that invalidating ballots over minor administrative mistakes disenfranchised voters and breached the Materiality Provision of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Judge Thomas Ambro, in his opinion, argued that the provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, referenced by the lower court, does not encompass ballot-casting regulations overall, including envelope date requirements. He underscored that it specifically addresses the verification of a voter’s eligibility to participate in elections.

“The Pennsylvania General Assembly has decided that mail-in voters must date the declaration on the return envelope of their ballot to make their vote effective,” Ambro wrote. “The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania unanimously held this ballot-casting rule is mandatory; thus, failure to comply renders a ballot invalid under Pennsylvania law.”

Proponents of mail-in voting argue that it improves voting accessibility, particularly aiding senior citizens and people with disabilities. Nevertheless, some Republicans express worries about potential integrity issues linked to the method, particularly in Pennsylvania, where Democrats are significantly more inclined to vote by mail, as reported by Fox News.

President Donald Trump has strongly condemned the system, labeling it as “completely corrupt” and attributing it, at least partially, to his defeat in the 2020 election.