Pa. Supreme Court to rule if counties can examine mail-in ballot signatures

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Less than three weeks away from Election Day, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is taking up the dispute over matching signatures on mail-in ballots and voter records.

The court is reviewing whether Pennsylvania Election Code requires a review of signatures on mail-in ballots, and, if a ballot can be tossed based on a signature that is believed to be different than the one on record.

Counties are responsible for running elections and enforcing the rules.

Montgomery County elections officials say they’re prepared to follow whatever rules and guidelines are in place for the upcoming election — though they would have preferred if those rules had already been finalized.

“Certainly in Montgomery County, we will follow whatever the court decides,” said Ken Lawrence, Montgomery County commissioner and chair of the Board of Elections, “but it is problematic that we are (less than) three weeks out and we’re still determining some of these issues.”

For months, counties have been asking the state Legislature for clarity on these issues. They also asked for permission to open ballots before Election Day in order to prep them for counting, so to get results as quickly as possible.

Lawrence compared the back-and-forth — both in the courts and in the state Legislature — to the NBA All-Star game, where rules changed each quarter.

“I just think it’s problematic at this point in the election that we’re still determining the rules that the elections will be held under,” he added.

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, has instructed counties not to toss ballots based on signatures. Over the weekend, a federal judge denied the Trump campaign’s request for signature analyses of mail-in ballots.

Boockvar said she’s pleased the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is taking up the issue, as there’s a possibility the federal ruling could be appealed.

Republicans argue Boockvar is rewriting existing law and changing guidelines for challenging the validity of a ballot.