Pennsylvania Democrats are increasingly alarmed that the U.S. Supreme Court might intervene to throw out mail ballots that arrive after Election Day, after three conservative justices on the high court this week held open the possibility of reversing a state court ruling that extended the deadline for returning them.
Meanwhile, several Pennsylvania counties have said they won’t begin counting mail ballots until the day after Election Day, increasing the likelihood that early returns that night could give a misleading impression of the vote, since Democrats are voting far more heavily by mail. In some counties, their votes may not begin being tallied until Nov. 4.
And the prospect of a long delay before a fuller picture of the results is known, Democrats fear, will open a window for Trump to prematurely declare victory as public perceptions harden around incomplete tallies.
But one of Biden’s closest allies in Pennsylvania worried Thursday that an unrestrained President Donald Trump or a newly reshaped Supreme Court could dismiss or thwart ballots voters had cast under the current deadline, and potentially secure a second term for the president.
“That’s my number-one concern,” Sen. Bob Casey, one of Pennsylvania’s most senior Democrats and, like Biden, a Scranton native, said in an interview. “All of these ballot issues, whether it’s by way of litigation or by way of the president engaging in conduct that might be unlawful. He’s not constrained by the law, he’s not constrained by convention or deference to institutions.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, in deciding Wednesday not to fast-track a Republican effort to strike down the state Supreme Court’s ruling extending the deadline by three days, did not address the merits of the case — only whether it could be decided before Election Day.