Is PA’s ruling allowing ballots to be counted after Election Day right?


Fact Box

  • Pennsylvania is considered by many as the most important state in the 2020 presidential election because of its 20 electoral votes. Both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden made 10 campaign visits to Pennsylvania in September. 
  • The final presidential debate will be held Thursday, October 22, before Election Day on November 3, 2020. Both candidates will have two minutes to speak for each segment, with the opponent’s mic muted. After the given two minutes, there will be a period of open discussion. 
  • On July 30, Trump tweeted that universal mail-in voting would make the 2020 election the most “inaccurate and fraudulent” in history. According to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, the rate of voting fraud overall in the US is between 0.00004% and 0.0009%. 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Pennsylvania officials can count absentee ballots received as late as the Friday after Election Day. 
  • In 2019, the state required absentee ballots to be received by Election Day. This year, Democrats pushed for extension because of postal delay concerns amid the pandemic.

Bill (No)

Pennsylvania's ruling allowing ballots to be counted after Election Day is wrong and is a blatant example of judicial overreach. By effectively extending Election Day, it violates federal law, as Election Day is determined to be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Moreover, the courts don't have the constitutional authority to establish a new Election Day—that is strictly a legislative decision. The ruling allows ballots without a postmark to be accepted (votes that could have been cast after Election Day), creating the potential for voter fraud.

This year, 2.6 million registered voters in Pennsylvania have applied for a mail-in ballot; to date, only '437,000 have been returned by voters.' This leaves over two million votes floating around uncontrolled and vulnerable to fraud and mishandling. A primary source of fraud is ballot harvesting is found in 'political operatives and others to collect voters' ballots and turn them in en masse to polling stations.' In a recent notorious example in Minnesota, a political operative 'took every single ballot' from elderly people in a Minneapolis public housing complex.

In addition to the risk of fraud, the sheer volume of mail-in ballots at stake makes it a near certainty that errors in state and county elections offices will occur. In one case alone, '29,000 people in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, were sent the wrong ballot.' The concern about the potential for fraud or error is significant, considering that Trump's margin of victory in Pennsylvania in 2016 was a mere 44,292 votes out of more than 6,000,000 cast.

Tyler (Yes)

The outcome of this year's election will be much more accurate since Pennsylvania will be counting ballots for three days after the upcoming election. Due to recent delays in the postal service caused by the chaos from the COVID pandemic, many ballots could possibly be invalidated if they are held for too long. The USPS is currently in turmoil, as the percentage of late deliveries has risen as high as 12% this year, and the fact they are $114 billion in debt to the company's employee-benefit fund. Although the postal service is clearly in dire straits, President Trump has opposed providing extra funding to the USPS because he believes mail-in voting will lead to a 'rigged' election.

Pennsylvania is only one of two swing states where millions of submitted absentee ballots can only be counted on Election Day. This gives election officials more time and less of a pending rush. This is not a new concept in Pennsylvania's state legislature. In fact, this is how the state has already handled votes for military and overseas residents. Recent elections have resulted in very close outcomes in Pennsylvania, with Trump only winning by 44,000 votes last election. This year, 60% of requests for mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania have been by Democrats. Therefore, every single vote must be counted to confirm validity when concluding the winner of this year's neck-and-neck race for the presidency.

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