Report: Wolf admin asks Supreme Court to extend mail-in voting deadlines

Mail Carrier Sorting the mail

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration asked the state’s highest court late Thursday to extend mail-in balloting deadlines for the November general election, with worries mounting that the U.S. Postal Service won’t be able to handle an expected deluge of ballots.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the filing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which was submitted after hours on Thursday night, cited a July 29 letter by U.S. Postal Service General Counsel Thomas Marshall.

In that letter, Marshall warned that “some mail ballots might not be delivered on time because the state’s deadlines are too tight for its “delivery standards,” prompting election officials to ask the state Supreme Court to extend the deadlines to avoid disenfranchising voters,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

More from The Associated Press:

In it, Marshall warns that Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot deadlines are “incongruous” with the postal service’s delivery standards and he recommended that voters mail in their ballots a week before the deadline for it to be received and counted.

That deadline, under current law, is the close of polls on election day, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. But Wolf’s administration pointed out that state law allows voters to apply for a mail-in ballot up until a week before the deadline, never mind mail it in.

“To state it simply: voters who apply for mail-in ballots in the last week of the application period and return their complete ballot by mail will, through no fault of their own, likely be disenfranchised,” Wolf administration lawyers wrote in the 13-page filing.

As a result, Wolf’s administration is asking the state Supreme Court to order that ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 be counted if they are valid and received during the three days following the election.

Ballots received during those three days but lack a postmark or legible proof of mailing should also be counted, the administration’s lawyers wrote.

The letter came the same day that President Donald Trump acknowledged he was opposing increased federal funding for the postal service to sabotage Democratic efforts to expand mail-in balloting.

“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said during an interview on Fox Business channel, adding, “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press