Oz, McCormick is already fighting for undated ballot papers by mail | News

PHILADELPHIA – The legal battle for every vote in the primaries in the Republican Senate in Pennsylvania has begun.

The armies of lawyers representing David McCormick and Mehmet Oz, separated like a razor by a margin in the current vote count, were dropping to the state when a federal appeals court disrupted the trial on Friday.

Shortly after 4 p.m., the court ruled to count the ballots by mail without a date from Lehigh County in last fall’s election. This has led to tensions in counties and campaigns because state courts have previously held that Pennsylvania law requires voters to date their ballots or throw them away.

Less than 90 minutes later, McCormick’s company sent an email to state attorneys and all 67 counties.

“We hope that in light of the decision of the third constituency, you will advise your respective councils to count all ballots in absentia or by mail that were received in time but were postponed / not counted simply because these ballots did not have an external voter date. the side of the envelope, ”wrote attorney Ron Hicks. “To the extent that you are reluctant to give this advice, we ask for a formal hearing on your advice on the matter.”

Hicks is one of the leading Republican lawyers in the Pennsylvania election. He and his firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur represented the campaign of then-President Donald Trump as he battled his loss in 2020. Hicks helped file a lawsuit to suspend certification of results in Pennsylvania before abruptly dropping the case – and Trump’s representation – a few days later.

In recent days, the Oz and McCormick companies have attracted small armies of lawyers.

As of Saturday afternoon, when more than 1.34 million votes were counted in the race, Oz had 1,070 votes more than McCormick, a difference of less than 0.08 percent. By law, a difference of 0.5 percent or less will result in a recount.

“David McCormick was a formidable opponent, but it is clear that he is likely to give in to Dr. Mehmet Oz,” Oz chief executive Casey Contress said in a statement on Saturday.

If the vote count continues, Contress said, it will fight McCormick’s attempt to get ballots counted by date without a date.

In any close race a candidate who lags behind, in this case McCormick, must find all possible votes to add to the vote count.

For the leading candidate, in this case Oz, the goal is the opposite. Oz wants the Count to end up with him on top.

McCormick, in particular, wants to count the ballots for the mail: personal voting slightly preferred Oz, and the ballots helped McCormick. (Makormik won about seven votes in the mail for every five Oz has.)

The fight for the ballots may begin before the list of votes is officially announced next week.

As the final votes are counted – constituencies must submit unofficial, as close as possible to the final, results to the Pennsylvania State Department by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday – constituency election officials will decide which ballots to count or reject.

During the vote count, election workers move as quickly as possible to count all the ballots they know they can, postponing for review those that have any defects. Controversial ballots create an opportunity for both companies when viewed by district officials.

After two years of widespread postal voting, many of these decisions are largely resolved – constituencies reject unsigned ballots, such as “bare ballots” that come without an envelope of secrecy – but voters raise new issues each election. Companies can challenge district decisions to count or reject these ballots and then appeal them to district courts.

Similarly, campaigns will be able to challenge decisions during the recount, including arguing that the constituency misinterprets voter intentions, rejects legitimate votes, or accepts illegitimate votes.

Outside of the inter-county struggle, companies may also choose to sue across the state, for example, arguing that the county’s diverse policies violate the U.S. Constitution. And one set of attorneys hired by Oz is also involved in the Lehigh County case, so they could potentially ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the appeals court’s decision.

Both McCormick and Oz campaigns are investigating the counting process, asking counties how they counted the votes and how they made decisions about which to count or reject. In Allegheny County, for example, representatives of both companies observed the final round of personal counting of ballots and ballot papers by mail on Friday, and both were asked to check ballots without a date or without a signature when county officials meet again today.

These bulletins by dateless suddenly occupied the central stage.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that undated ballots for mail by Leahy County Mail from last November’s election should be counted.

He did not immediately issue an opinion, but the text of the order, according to several lawyers from both political parties, meant that constituencies could suddenly – or perhaps even should – count ballots by mail without a date.

Judges ruled that the requirement of state election law to date a vote – which, according to state courts, meant that ballots without a date should be rejected – was not actually used to determine whether a vote was legal. This makes the requirement technical that, when used to reject ballots, violates the Civil Rights Act.

Hicks attached a copy of the order in his email to the district attorney. As he described it: “The third constituency determined that the absence of a date provided to voters on the outside of an envelope or postal ballot envelope could not prevent the counting of that ballot, because the absence of that date in an indisputably timely ballot is irrelevant. federal law ”.

On Saturday, Contres objected that “our campaign will oppose a request by McCormick’s legal team that election commissions ignore both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the state election law and accept ballots rejected by law.”

The fight for postal ballots now puts McCormick in the position of a Republican defending the voting method that the Republican Party has spent the last two years in the attack. Trump’s lies about election fraud and rigging prompted Republicans to generally avoid voting by mail.

“Unfortunately, McCormick’s legal team is following the Democrats’ instructions,” Contress said in a statement.

Asked about his request, the spokesman said McCormick’s campaign was “pleased that Republican votes in the primary election – including the military – continue to be counted.”

Staff writer Julia Terus contributed to this article.

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