Amid accusations of fraud and shady dealings in the presidential election, officials in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Texas are forced to sort out some ballots if they cannot be used in the final count of votes.
“Separated” ballots, as the name suggests, are separated from the others by order of a judge. Usually they are separated because they arrived after the polls closed on Tuesday, and the key question is whether the judges will later decide that the ballots are invalid.
At the beginning of the elections, Pennsylvania separated postal ballots that arrived after election day because the Supreme Court said it could eventually throw them out as invalid votes. The court previously denied a motion for expedited proceedings in a case involving a lower court’s decision to allow the counting of the ballots if they arrived within three days of election day.
Pennsylvania now also separates ballots that did not contain proper identification. On Wednesday, the campaign of President Donald Trump, who strongly criticized the integrity of the Pennsylvania elections, filed a complaint against an extension of the deadline for voters to prove their identity. Voters were originally given until November 9 to provide proof of identity if it was originally lacking, but Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar extended the deadline by three days until November 12.
In addition to the “undoubted” creation of a “high risk of compromising the integrity” of the election, the suit argued that the extension would also unnecessarily delay the election results.
On Thursday, the court issued an order that Pennsylvania must discard all ballots with identification problems that are corrected between November 10 and 12. A decision in this case is still pending, but a senior state official sees no difference between the ballots and the state election results.
Deputy Governor John Fetterman said TODAY on Friday that he does not believe that “these ballots will be an issue at all. He added that former Vice President Joe Biden’s leadership is likely to endure because the ballots that arrived before 8:00 p.m. on election day, and where there is no segregation, are biased in favor of the former Vice President.
Days before the election, a federal appeals court ruled that Minnesota must discard the ballots that arrive in Minnesota after the polls close on election day. The ruling came after Secretary of State Steve Simon agreed to a decree that allowed the ballots to be counted up to seven days after the election, provided they were stamped by election day.
By court order, officials were instructed to separate the ballots so that the votes “may be removed from the total number of votes if a final order” from a court renders them “invalid or unlawfully counted.
During a press conference, Simon described the decision as “unnecessarily disruptive” and the content of the decision as “deeply disturbing. He also criticized the court for making the decision so close to the election, saying it could have been made “months ago.
According to the Associated Press, Minnesota voted for Biden with about 233,000 votes, which earned him 10 votes. It is unclear whether this figure includes the split ballots or whether there were enough votes to change the state’s election results. Washington Newsday asked Simon for a comment, but did not receive a reply in time for publication.
Texas must also sort out post-election day ballots if the U.S. Supreme Court overrides a decision of the state Supreme Court to allow the counting of ballots received after the election.
Trump has beaten Lonestar State by nearly six points, so it is unlikely that the Trump campaign will continue the Supreme Court efforts to count the ballots, and since Biden has several ways to win, a battle in Texas is not an effective use of legal means.
The goal of the split ballots is that there is an easy way to remove them from the final vote in case a court declares them invalid. However, if the number of split ballots does not change the outcome of the election, it is unclear whether either campaign will lead a fight for their exclusion.