The Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block the counting of some mail-in votes in Pennsylvania could deal a critical blow to former hedge fund executive David McCormick’s bid to tally “undated” ballots in the Senate Republican primary race that has him trailing Dr. Mehmet Oz by just 900 votes.
The order, written by Justice Samuel Alito and released Tuesday, paused a lower court’s ruling allowing the tabulation of mail-in ballots that were missing a handwritten date in a November 2021 court election in Lehigh County.
The US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in a decision released May 20 that a state election requirement that all mail-in and absentee ballots must be submitted in an envelope with a written date on it was “immaterial” and ordered all votes to be counted.
Pennsylvania then advised counties to count such ballots and both candidates began legal action.
McCormick asked the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to ensure that all counties tally mail-in and absentee ballots that do not have a correct date (or any date at all) on their envelopes — so long as they were received by 8 p.m. on primary day, May 17.
Oz, a celebrity heart surgeon who had a syndicated TV talk show, appealed to the Supreme Court to stay the Third Circuit decision and “uphold the will of Pennsylvania’s voters.”
“The total number of undated absentee and mail-in ballots cast in the May Republican primary election in 65 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties is only around 860 — fewer than the 922-vote margin of Dr. Oz’s apparent victory,” Oz’s legal team wrote in a brief to the high court.
That razor-thin margin had already prompted a statewide recount of the race that is expected to be concluded by June 8.
McCormick’s campaign on Tuesday also sought a hand recount in 12 counties where they say the results don’t jibe with the state’s totals.
“We’re going to ask today for a hand recount of 12 different counties to get a complete sense of the delta between what the counties are providing our campaign and what the Department of State [is providing] … We have between a 15,000- and 20,000-vote discrepancy between the ballots cast and the ballots counted,” a campaign official told Fox News.
The high court’s order essentially freezes the matter until the justices can further consider the case, but there is no timeline for that.
The Pennsylvania Department of State has not released any guidance on how counties should proceed in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
The race in the Keystone State became one of the most closely watched primaries in the country as it pitted former President Donald Trump, who backs Oz, against a number of officials who served in his administration — including Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway — who threw their support behind McCormick.
The ultimate winner will face Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who sailed to victory in the Democratic primary after suffering a stroke, in November.
With Post wires