ACLU Comment on Supreme Court Action in Pennsylvania Mail Ballot Challenge

October 11, 2022 1:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s opinion in Migliori v. Ritter this morning. This case concerned the counting of 257 timely received mail ballots in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, which had been excluded from the 2021 election due to the lack of a handwritten date on an outer return envelope. Those ballots were ultimately counted as a result of this litigation, and the Supreme Court’s ruling today does not change that result.

The following comment is from Ari Savitzky, American Civil Liberties Union senior staff attorney:

“This morning, the Supreme Court set aside the Third Circuit precedent in the Migliori v. Ritter case on purely procedural grounds. The court did not say that the Third Circuit’s decision was wrong, or otherwise address the merits of the case. Rather, it decided that because the ballots had already been counted and the election certified, the case was moot and any further appeal could not be heard. Vacatur is a technical procedure that can occur when a case becomes moot.

“We remain pleased that the county election here was certified with every ballot counted, as the Third Circuit’s decision correctly required.

“As for November, it remains clear that, under both Pennsylvania state law and federal law, timely mail ballots where a voter merely forgets to handwrite an inconsequential date on the outer envelope must be counted. Nothing about today’s procedural decision changes that. We will keep fighting for voters who are wrongly disenfranchised based on minor paperwork errors.”

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