Pennsylvania court: Signature mismatches ballots must be accepted

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday that mail ballots and applications can’t be challenged or rejected for signatures mismatches. The court’s two conservative justices joined its five liberal ones in ruling that subjective signatures analysis can’t be the reason any ballot is rejected in the key battleground state. 

“County boards of elections are prohibited from rejecting absentee or mail-in ballots based on signature comparison conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third-party challenges based on signature analysis and comparisons,” Justice Debra Todd wrote in the concurring opinion. 

Pennsylvania’s elections chief had issued guidance in September in line with that interpretation of the law, and the Trump campaign asked a federal district court judge to deem it unconstitutional. That court dismissed the lawsuit earlier this month, and Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar asked the state’s top court to use it’s “King’s Bench” power to affirm the legality of her directive on ballot rejections. 

This is the first year that Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, is allowing no-excuse mail-in voting. Nearly a third of the state’s 9 million registered voters have applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot, and two thirds of those voters are Democrats. 

President Trump has repeatedly raised concerns that the influx of voting by mail in the state will result in fraud. On visits to the state, he has urged supporters to keep a close eye on mail ballots, and his campaign has filed repeated lawsuits against other mail voting expansions in the state. A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. 

In a statement, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro praised the court’s decision. Shapiro, a Democrat, said that voters casting their ballot by mail already had their identities checked when they applied for a ballot. 

“Pennsylvania’s voter identification system is safe and secure,” he said. “We are protecting every eligible vote and ensuring each is counted.” 

A Pennsylvania state court on Friday also rejected an appeal effort from the Trump campaign over Philadelphia’s elections officials not allowing poll watchers in satellite elections offices.  

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