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Alan Wilson joins fight over Pennsylvania's extension of mail-in ballot time

Alan Wilson joins fight over Pennsylvania's extension of mail-in ballot time

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has joined the Republican Party's battle against the state of Pennsylvania. 

Wilson's office announced Monday afternoon that he and nine other attorneys general are filing a friend of the court brief in Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar.

Kathy Bookvar is the secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The secretary's office includes the commonwealth's Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation. 

The Pennsylvania court goes back to a case filed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party against Boockvar. The state supreme court granted the Democratic Party's request for an extended mail-in ballot time, leading the state Republican Party file for a stay to prevent the extension of time. That was denied by the state Supreme Court, leading the Republican Party to seek relief from the Supreme Court. 

“Regardless of your political beliefs, I think we can all agree that states need to follow their election laws,” Wilson said. “We’re just asking that all legal votes be counted and illegal votes not be counted.”

The attorneys general from South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Texas and Florida are led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. 

“Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of our republic and make the United States the envy of nations across the globe," Schmitt said. "To keep those elections free and fair, we must ensure that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is not. To not do so would disenfranchise millions of Americans. That’s why my office led a coalition of 10 state attorneys general in filing this amicus brief to urge the Supreme Court of the United States to grant a writ of certiorari in Republican Party of Pennsylvania vs. Boockvar."

The brief urges the Supreme Court of the United States to grant writs of certiorari and reverse a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowing mail-in ballots to be received three days after Election Day, even without postmarks.

The brief begins with, “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision overstepped its constitutional responsibility, encroached on the authority of the Pennsylvania legislature and violated the plain language of the Election Clauses.”

The brief makes three main arguments.

First, that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its authority and encroached on the authority of the legislature in ruling that ballots received three days after election can be accepted, including ballots with an illegible postmark or no postmark at all.

Second, that voting by mail can create risks of voter fraud, including in Pennsylvania.

Third, that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision exacerbated these risks of absentee ballot fraud.

For the first argument, the brief states that the decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, “(1) admitted that the Legislature’s Election Day deadline was unambiguous, (2) conceded that the Election Day deadline was constitutional on its face, (3) relied on the slimmest of evidentiary rationales for its decision, (4) departed its own prior holding on the exact same question just a few months earlier, and (5) disregarded an admirably clear severability clause that was enacted by the Pennsylvania legislature for the very purpose of preventing Pennsylvania courts from making such post-hoc changes to Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting system.”

To illustrate the risks of voter fraud in mail in voting and absentee ballot voting, the brief cites several sources that all express the same concerns about mail-in voting and absentee ballot voting, including the U.S. Supreme Court case Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, the U.S. Department of Justice’s manual on Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and more.

Additionally, the brief cites several previous examples of voter fraud by mail-in or absentee voting. 

The brief then argues that the decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court exacerbated the risks of ballot fraud, stating, "First, it created a post-election window of time during which nefarious actors could wait and see whether the Presidential election would be close, and whether perpetrating fraud in Pennsylvania would be worthwhile. Second, it enhanced the opportunities for fraud by mandating, in a cursory footnote, that late ballots must be counted even when they are not postmarked or have no legible postmark, and thus there is no evidence they were mailed by Election Day. This decision created needless vulnerability to actual fraud and undermined public confidence in a Presidential election.”

Lastly, the brief notes recently decided Missouri election cases that dealt with potential election fraud, including Mo. State Conference of the NAACP v. State. In that case, the court concluded that “fraud in voting by mail is a recurrent problem, that it is hard to detect and prosecute, that there are strong incentives and weak penalties for doing so, and that it has the capacity to affect the outcome of close elections.”

The brief finishes by urging the Supreme Court of the United States to grant the petitions for writ of certiorari, grant expedited review and reverse the decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

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Government and Politics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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