The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling on Sept. 17, in litigation brought by the state Democratic Party and other plaintiffs, addressing several issues that had been the subject of debate regarding the administration of elections. Specifically, the majority opinion held that the Election Code permits county boards of election to accept hand-delivered mail-in ballots at locations other than their office addresses including drop boxes, that voters are not entitled to notice and an opportunity to cure minor defects with mail-in ballots and that a voter's failure to enclose a ballot in a secrecy envelope renders the ballot invalid. The ruling also found that the poll watcher residency requirement, which requires poll watchers to be residents of the county, does not violate the state or federal constitutions.
In response to the state ruling, U.S. District Judge Ranjan lifted the stay in the federal litigation brought by the Trump campaign and other plaintiffs, allowing plaintiffs to file notice describing what claims remain viable, how any of the viable claims have been altered by the state Supreme Court's decision, and specific proposals and timelines for presenting any remaining viable claims to the Court for resolution. In essence, plaintiffs argued that all claims remain viable in some form, and sought to submit an amended complaint. Judge Ranjan has issued an order that motions for summary judgment on the remaining claims the court will hear are due Oct. 1, with final response due Oct. 5. If necessary, the Court will hold an evidentiary hearing on Oct. 13 and 14.
Further, the state Supreme Court ordered that that the state should accept ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. Election Day that arrive up to three days after Election Day. Republican state legislators asked the state to stay the part of the order regarding use of drop boxes and granting the three-day extension while they appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court; that stay was denied on Sept. 24.