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In 2019, the Pennsylvania Legislature established a deadline for receiving mail-in ballots by 8:00 on Election Day, but on Sept. 17, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the deadline for the 2020 General Election, including federal elections, by three days, and permitted the mail-in ballots to be counted if received within the three day period. Pennsylvania Democratic Party v Boockvar, __Pa.__, 238 A.3d 345; and see footnote 26 permitting them to be counted if received by the extended deadline even without a postmark. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did so under the state constitution’s provision guaranteeing “free and equal elections.” However, Section 4 of Article I and Section 1 of Article II of the federal constitution require that state legislatures establish the rules governing the election of federal officers in each state, and the state court action presented a question of whether the holding violated the above cited “Elections and Electors clauses” of the federal constitution.

Just a week before the November election, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a divided 4-4 vote, denied review but by separate order, the ballots received after the legislatively-imposed deadline were segregated to be counted separately so their possible outcome on the election could be later considered.

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