The Supreme Court docket on Monday declined to rein in final yr’s judicial rewrite of Pennsylvania election regulation, regardless of three dissenting votes. What a missed alternative to forestall future mischief. President Biden received by sufficient votes in sufficient states that this case wouldn’t change the end result. However it may have reduce the percentages of a meltdown subsequent time.
“Altering the principles in the midst of the sport is dangerous sufficient,” Justice Clarence Thomas writes in his solo dissent. “Such rule modifications by officers who could lack authority to take action is even worse.” The Structure offers state legislatures the ability to resolve the “method” of elections, however courts and officers final yr ignored black-letter regulation.
Pennsylvania legislators unambiguously stated mail ballots have been due by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. But the state Supreme Court docket, gesturing at a imprecise assure of “free and equal” elections, dominated that late-arriving votes can be legitimate via Nov. 6, even with out proof of after they have been mailed. In whole, 10,097 tardy ballots confirmed up, 669 missing legible postmarks. That’s loads to create havoc in a tighter election.
In Minnesota, a Democratic state official settled a lawsuit from a progressive group by agreeing to just accept mailed ballots every week previous the authorized deadline. 5 days earlier than Nov. 3, a federal court docket ordered these ballots—2,460 arrived and have been counted, plus 802 rejected for nonetheless being late—stored separate, in case they needed to be tossed. In different states, deadlines have been prolonged and reverted by totally different judges.
Voters won’t know which directions to comply with. Each campaigns may declare victory, which is what occurred in a Pennsylvania state Senate race amid a dispute over undated ballots, as Justice Thomas recounts. “The choice to go away election regulation hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling,” he writes.