GOP Wins Big in ‘Crucial’ Pennsylvania Mail Voting Lawsuit

The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal district court's order on Wednesday, handing the Republican National Committee (RNC) a victory concerning signature verification for mail voting in Pennsylvania, a decision with potential implications for swing states like Pennsylvania and others.

The case focused on whether mail-in ballots with incorrect or missing dates under the voter's signature but sent in time should be counted, as noted by NPR.

Democrats argued that the Materiality Provision outlined in Section 10101(a)(2)(B) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied in this situation, suggesting that the ballots could be considered.

The Materiality Provision prohibits denying the right to vote due to an "error or omission" on paperwork "related to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting," if the mistake is "not material in determining whether [an] individual is qualified" to vote.

The RNC contended that enforcing the date requirement for a ballot "does not impinge on the right to vote" because the Materiality Provision "only prohibits immaterial requirements affecting the qualification and registration of a voter," not additional requirements for casting a ballot.

The 3rd Circuit decision, with two of the three judges concurring (all three appointed by Democrats), clarified:

States have distinct rules for different stages of the voting process. One stage involves voter qualification, determining who votes. To register and thus be authorized to vote, applicants must follow prescribed steps and meet certain requirements, akin to obtaining a driver's license.

Another stage pertains to how ballots are cast by those already authorized to vote, governed by different rules. All qualified voters must adhere to specific requirements to cast a valid ballot, similar to how authorized drivers must obey traffic laws.

The Materiality Provision is a federal overlay on state election requirements during the "who" stage: voter qualification. It prevents States from denying an applicant the right to vote based on a paperwork error or omission if it's immaterial in determining voter qualification. However, it lets States decide how qualified voters must cast a valid ballot. Pennsylvania has mandated the date requirement as one such rule, and the federal Materiality Provision, in our interpretation, does not interfere.

Following the ruling, RNC Chairman Michael Whatley remarked:

"This is a crucial victory for election integrity and voter confidence in the Keystone State and nationwide. Pennsylvanians deserve to feel confident in the security of their mail ballots, and this 3rd Circuit ruling roundly rejects unlawful left-wing attempts to count undated or incorrectly dated mail ballots. Republicans will continue to fight and win for election integrity in courts across the country ahead of the 2024 election."

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