A long-standing practice meant to guard against voter fraud cannot be used in Pennsylvania, according to the state Supreme Court.
The court ruled Friday that ballots cannot be rejected solely because the signature of a voter on the ballot does not match the voter’s signature on file, according to Politico.
Pennsylvania is among those states that have instituted mass mail-in voting for this election.
President Donald Trump’s campaign challenged guidance issued last month by Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar that said signature comparison was not a valid reason to throw out a ballot.
“If the Voter’s Declaration on the return envelope is signed and the county board is satisfied that the declaration is sufficient, the mail-in or absentee ballot should be approved for canvassing unless challenged in accordance with the Pennsylvania Election Code,” Boockvar wrote then.
“The Pennsylvania Election Code does not authorize the county board of elections to set aside returned absentee or mail-in ballots based solely on signature analysis by the county board of elections,” the guidance read.
The court did not rule on the larger issue of whether or not that’s the case, but said instead that the state’s Election Code sets the rules for rejecting ballots, and does not include a requirement for signature analysis.
“We conclude that the Election Code does not authorize or require county election boards to reject absentee or mail-in ballots during the canvassing process based on an analysis of a voter’s signature,” the court ruled.
The court ordered “the county boards of elections not to reject absentee or mail-in ballots for counting, computing, and tallying based on signature comparisons conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third party challenges based on such comparisons.”
Some said the ruling will have devastating consequences:
First, Pennsylvania court says mail-in ballots can arrive nine days late. Now, they say that signature on ballot does not have to match signature on file. So, basically anything goes in the Keystone State. An open invitation to fraud. https://t.co/ZykDvyuaXK
— Jim Rickards (@JamesGRickards) October 23, 2020
THIS alone might help Biden ensure a WIN in Pennsylvania!!!
— Independent Commentary from a Patriot (@commentary_a) October 23, 2020
The court said that if the state legislature had wanted such a measure in the law, it could have inserted it.
“It is not our role under our tripartite system of governance to engage in judicial legislation and to rewrite a statute in order to supply terms which are not present therein, and we will not do so in this instance,” the ruling said.
As one commentator noted, the Trump campaign has the option of appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If appealed to #SCOTUS, a new Justice Barrett could vote with 4 others to review (as they indicated they would in earlier PA case this week), even though normally state supreme courts have the final state on how to interpret state laws.
Strap in, folks.
— Josh Douglas (@JoshuaADouglas) October 23, 2020
Boockvar had argued against using signatures to verify ballots, claiming that too many voters would be disqualified if “arbitrary signature comparisons and challenges to signature variations are allowed to be used as a basis for rejecting mail and absentee ballots,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.