The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruled Friday that ballots cannot be rejected because of signature comparisons.
The state’s high court ruled unanimously 7-0 saying there are zero provisions in the state’s election code requiring counties to determine if a signature matches. According to Lancaster Online, the court noted in writing the law the legislature could have mandated signature matching, but did not.
The ruling is yet another loss for President Trump and Republicans who argued signature matching was necessary to prevent fraud. The ruling could lead to an even bigger loss as the swing state will be crucial to either presidential candidate winning the election.
“We conclude that the Election Code does not authorize or require county election boards to reject absentee or mail-in ballots during the canvassing process based on an analysis of a voter’s signature,” the state Supreme Court wrote, which was signed by six of the seven justices, according to Politico.
The state Supreme Court has told the county board of elections “not to reject absentee or mail-in ballots for counting, computing, and tallying based on signature comparisons conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third party challenges based on such comparisons.”
Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar released guidance early last month for election officials to follow.
“If the Voter’s Declaration on the return envelope is signed and the county board is satisfied that the declaration is sufficient, the mail-in or absentee ballot should be approved for canvassing unless challenged in accordance with the Pennsylvania Election Code,” Boockvar’s guidance stated. “The Pennsylvania Election Code does not authorize the county board of elections to set aside returned absentee or mail-in ballots based solely on signature analysis by the county board of elections.”
Earlier in the week, the Supreme Court deadlocked on a GOP motion to bar the state from collecting mail-in ballots after Election Day in a 4-4 split. The tie allows mail-in ballots in the state to be counted up to a week after Election Day as long as they’re postmarked Nov. 3 or before.
According to the U.S. Elections Project, 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have already submitted their ballots in 2020 and Democrats have a sizable lead in the state but many Republicans in the state’s rural areas will vote in-person on Election Day.