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New lawsuit targets Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot deadline

The Associated Press
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke fills out an application for a mail-in ballot before voting at the opening of a satellite election office at Temple University's Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania has seen a frenzy of election-related lawsuits as state officials prepare for some 3 million people, about half the expected turnout, to cast mail-in ballots. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

HARRISBURG — A new lawsuit filed Thursday is challenging Pennsylvania’s court-ordered deadline to count mail-in ballots that are received up to three days after the Nov. 3 election in the presidential battleground state.

Plaintiffs include a Republican congressional candidate and four registered voters from Somerset County.

The lawsuit comes 12 days before the election and three days after the U.S. Supreme Court, divided 4-4, rejected a Republican plea making a similar argument.

Both sought to block a state Supreme Court ruling that required county election officials to receive and count mailed-in ballots that arrive up until Nov. 6, even if they don’t have a clear postmark, as long as there is no proof it was mailed after the polls closed.

More:U.S. Supreme Court allows 3-day extension to count Pennsylvania mail-in ballots

Thursday’s lawsuit argues that the deadline extension is unfair to in-person voters and exceeded the court’s authority by exercising a power that is constitutionally vested in Congress and the state Legislature.

With about 2.9 million mail-in ballots requested so far, registered Democrats have requested about 1.1 million more mail-in ballots than Republicans, or 1.8 million to 700,000, according to state data.

The Democratic majority on the state’s high court had cited warnings that postal service delays could invalidate huge numbers of ballots and surging demand for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic to invoke the power, used previously by the state’s courts, to extend election deadlines during a disaster emergency.