By Todd DeFeo
(The Center Square) – The Republican attorneys general of several states are joining in a legal challenge of mail-in votes in Pennsylvania, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the case.
At issue is whether mail-in ballots received after Election Day should be counted, a case that could have national ramifications. Most media outlets have called the Keystone State for former Vice President Joe Biden, but President Donald Trump has mounted a legal challenge.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the state must count all ballots it receives if they are postmarked Nov. 3 and received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6. However, Republicans have raised concerns about possible voter fraud and say the ruling runs counter to legislation state lawmakers passed.
“We can only govern based upon a set of rules, and the people who set those rules are” legislators, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said during a news conference. Landry is chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the case.
“Our three branches of government exist and operate in different spheres, each of them having an important but unique role,” Landry added. “When we commingle that or when one branch overtakes another, the basic civics falls apart and that’s what we have here.”
On Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ordered Pennsylvania election officials to set aside and count separately any ballots that arrived after Nov. 3. Pennsylvania officials have said they are complying with the ruling and that they always intended to keep the late-arriving ballots separate.
It is not exactly clear how many ballots the state received after Election Day, and state officials did not immediately respond to a Monday request.
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our republic, and it’s one of the reasons why the United States is the envy of the world,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “We have to ensure that every legal vote cast is counted and that every illegal vote cast is not counted. To do so would disenfranchise millions of Americans and why we filed this brief today seeking the Supreme Court to take the Pennsylvania case and then reverse the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision.”
The attorneys general argue concerns have long been raised about the potential for fraud with mail-in voting. Proponents, however, say there is no evidence of widespread fraud with casting ballots via mail.
“This potential for fraud is exacerbated by what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did when they rewrote the law,” Schmitt added. “By saying that you don’t even have to have a postmarked ballot on Election Day, and it can be received three days later, creates conditions that are ripe for fraud and abuse.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter also joined in Monday’s news conference. Separately, state Senate Republican leaders have called on Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to resign, saying she gave counties contradictory guidance about processing absentee ballots received after Nov. 3.