HARISBURG, Pennsylvania – The campaign of David McCormick, who is running in the Republican primary in the US Senate against the famous heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, on Monday filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to try to convince that the counties are subject to brand new federal appeals to help him.
McCormick’s lawsuit, filed shortly, asks the Commonwealth Court to require counties to immediately count ballots by mail that do not have the required handwritten date on the return envelope. This is the first – but probably not the last – lawsuit in the competition between Oz and McCormick, the former CEO of the hedge fund.
McCormick’s company said at least two counties – Blair and Allegheny – had suggested they would not count the ballots as part of their unofficial result, which each constituency must report to the state on Tuesday.
Oz, who was approved by former President Donald Trump, led McCormick, garnering 992 votes, or 0.07 percentage points, out of 1,341,037 ballots cast in the state as of 6 p.m. Monday.
The race is close enough to trigger the Pennsylvania Automatic Voice Count Act with a division between candidates within 0.5% of the law. The Associated Press will not announce the winner of the race until the probable list of votes is completed. It may take until June 8.
It is unclear how many ballot papers by mail, which do not have a handwritten date, were received by the constituencies. Although he lags behind the vote count, McCormick was better than Oz among the ballot papers in the mail.
Speaking on Monday in a conservative talk show on a radio in Philadelphia, McCormick insisted that “every Republican vote should count” and said his campaign believes a federal court decision is binding on counties.
“I believe that we, as Republicans, must have the premise that all Republican votes are counted, and that is what we all, I think, adhere to as a principle,” McCormick said. “And that’s why we follow this principle here. We followed this principle before this court decision. This court decision only clarified it more.”
A ruling in a separate case Friday night, the U.S. District Court of Appeals said the state election law requirement regarding the date next to the voter’s signature on the outside of the back envelopes was “irrelevant.” The lawsuit came as a result of last year’s district election of judges, and a panel of three judges said it found no reason to refuse to count the ballots in that race.
Governor Tom Wolf’s administration has said it will make recommendations to counties on how to deal with ballots affected by the ordinance, although it has not yet done so.
The ruling contradicted a position that Republicans in Pennsylvania have repeatedly appealed to the courts in the past to try to reject legitimate votes cast in a timely manner by voters because of technical details such as the lack of a handwritten date.
The law requires someone to write the date on the envelope in which they send the ballots. However, the envelope has a postmark of the post offices and a county stamp when they receive it.
Meanwhile, state law does not provide grounds for a voter to put a date on an envelope, and does not require a county to discard it in the absence of a date.
In an e-mail attached to the lawsuit as evidence, Blair County Attorney Nathan Carn told McCormick’s attorneys that the county would not consider them “until there is a clear finality.”
The Federal Court of Appeals decision affects only 10 Republican ballots in Blair County, Kern writes.
But the decision will not take effect until the court issues an opinion justifying its actions, Carn wrote, noting that the state has not issued instructions – which counties are not required to follow – and that the court’s decision can be appealed.
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