In a ruling issued Tuesday, a federal judge in Pittsburgh upheld the counting of a few hundred ballots in Pennsylvania’s 45th Senatorial District that had defects on their outer envelopes, again validating Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster’s victory and handing the GOP another post-election loss in the courts.
Mr. Brewster’s Republican opponent, Nicole Ziccarelli, had asked U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan to void the ballots, arguing that Allegheny County’s tallying of them violated due process and equal protection provisions of the federal constitution because similar ballots weren’t counted in Westmoreland County.
The judge denied her complaint.
“Contrary to Ms. Ziccarelli’s reading, the Court finds that the Supreme Court expressly held that the undated ballots at issue remain valid ballots that are properly counted under state law,” Judge Ranjan wrote in his opinion. “Thus, because Ms. Ziccarelli’s federal constitutional claims all depend on the invalidity of the ballots under state law, those claims necessarily fail on the merits.”…
Senate Republican leaders refused to seat Mr. Brewster, of McKeesport, in the chamber last week, insisting that they wanted to let the federal case play out and give their members enough time to consider Ms. Ziccarelli’s official challenge to the race certification in their chamber.
“If the federal court rules, as we believe, that the ballots should not count then we will seat Mrs. Ziccarelli immediately and if they rule ballots should count we will seat Sen. Brewster immediately,” Mr. Corman said in a statement last week. “A subsequent appeal will not delay that seating, although it could result in further action in the future if the district court decision is not upheld.”
The interesting ruling from the court includes a very important discussion about Roe v. Alabama and due process concerns.