In a decision that could have profound consequences for the outcome of the election, late on Monday the Supreme Court denied a request from Pennsylvania’s Republican Party to shorten the deadlines for mail-in ballots in the state after Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal justices Sotomayor, Kagan and Breyer to oppose the four conservative justices Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch who said they would have granted the application.
After a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision had moved the deadline for absentee ballots to be counted from 8 p.m. on Election Day to 5 p.m. the following Friday, Nov. 6, Pennsylvania Republicans and top officials from the state’s GOP-held legislature asked the Supreme Court to the ruling.
If the U.S. Supreme Court had granted a stay, it would have resulted in a return to the original deadline. However, due to the court’s 4-4 deadlock, the previous decision stays and mail-in ballots can be counted.
As reported earlier, when discussing the implications of timing when absentee ballots are pre-processed, some states do not allow mail-in ballots to be opened before Election Day which could mean counting delays. This includes a few of the critical swing states – such as PA and WI.
And as previously discussed, with a recent WSJ/NBC poll finding that 47% of Biden supporters plan to vote by mail whereas 86% of Trump supporters will vote in person, the ruling is seen as a win for Democrats in the key battleground state, which President Trump won in 2016 by just over 44,000 votes, since Biden voters are considered more likely than Trump supporters to vote by mail in November.
Finally, as Axios adds, the deadlock underscores the importance for Republicans of confirming Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who the president himself has said could be a deciding vote in an election-related dispute, since it is by now clear that Roberts plans on siding with liberals on election-related matters.