Pennsylvania Received 10,000 Mail Ballots After Polls Closed on Election Day

Pennsylvania Received 10,000 Mail Ballots After Polls Closed on Election Day
Election workers count ballots in Philadelphia, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

Pennsylvania's top elections official announced on Tuesday that around 10,000 mail-in ballots were received during the contested three-day grace period between when polls closed on Election Day and 5 p.m. the following Friday.

Besides revealing the number of ballots received after Nov. 3, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar also said that Pennsylvania's election officials received 94,000 provisional ballots, and that around 49,000 mail ballots that arrived before polls closed on Election Day remain to be tallied, according to Pennlive.

“The counties have done an impressive job counting a record number of mail ballots and now are canvassing the provisional ballots, each of which must be considered individually,” Boockvar said in a statement Tuesday.

Mail-in ballots arriving after Election Day are being contested in a Republican lawsuit, which is challenging the validity of a deadline extension by the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat. The state Supreme Court approved the extension over the objection of Republican lawmakers, prompting a petition to be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, which was initially rejected. Republicans filed an appeal and while the high court declined to consider it before the election, it left the door open to considering it at a later date.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Pennsylvania elections officials voted to count 2,349 mail-in ballots in Allegheny County that did not have a date on the envelope.

“They applied on time, received their ballots, voted their ballots, returned them on time with their signature, their printed name, their address—the only thing they’re missing is their date,” said County Solicitor Andrew Szefi, according to the outlet. “They were received timely, and our … ballot sorting machine imprints a date received on each envelope as they’re scanned.”

 Mail-in ballots are counted in Lehigh County, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2020. (Rachel Wisniewski/Reuters)
Mail-in ballots are counted in Lehigh County, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2020. (Rachel Wisniewski/Reuters)

The Board of Elections, comprised of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Councilman Sam DeMarco, and Councilwoman Bethany Hallam, voted two to one to count those votes, with DeMarco voting against. DeMarco explained his vote by saying that he would follow state law, which stipulates that the ballot mailing envelope must have a date.

The Trump campaign on Monday filed a lawsuit (pdf) against Boockvar and seven county boards of election—Allegheny, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Northampton, claiming that “almost every critical aspect” of the state’s election was “effectively shrouded in secrecy.”

It alleged that the Pennsylvania election process violated the Constitution by creating different standards of verification and transparency for mail-in and in-person voters, as well as disparate treatment of Republican and Democrat voters and poll watchers.

“In Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, there were over 682,000 ballots that were tabulated outside the view of our observers who were entitled by law to review those ballots,” Trump campaign legal counsel Matt Morgan said at a press conference on Nov. 9.

Morgan said the Pennsylvania numbers were “very close” to the state’s automatic recount rules, and the lawsuit could “swing that.”

An automatic recount is triggered if the margin of victory is less than or equal to 0.5 percent, but would have to be ordered by the secretary of state no later than 5 p.m. on the second Thursday following the election.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said Tuesday that he believes the campaign’s latest lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania will “prevail.”

The Pennsylvania lawsuits are among a raft of legal challenges to the 2020 election mounted by Trump and his Republican allies, who have alleged voting irregularities.

Peter Svab contributed to this report.