WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with an unsuccessful Republican candidate for a judgeship in Pennsylvania and threw out a lower court’s ruling that had allowed the counting of mail-in ballots in the race that he had sought to exclude because voters neglected to write the date on them.
The justices vacated the ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as requested by David Ritter, who lost his 2021 bid for a spot on the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas to a Democratic rival by five votes after 257 absentee ballots without date notations were counted.
The high court’s action means that the 3rd Circuit ruling cannot be used as a precedent in the three states covered by this regional federal appellate court – Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware – to allow the counting of ballots with minor flaws such as the voter failing to fill in the date. Vacating the ruling does not change Ritter’s loss in his race.
Under Pennsylvania law, voters are required to write the date on the outer envelope of a mail-in ballot. The 3rd Circuit found that the requirement is “immaterial” to determining their qualifications as voters.