Lancaster County to delay counting mail votes arriving after Tuesday, awaiting possible SCOTUS ruling

Chester Country election workers check ballots one last time before sending them to be scanned and counted

Chester Country election workers check ballots one last time before sending them to be scanned and counted in the West Chester University gym. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Lancaster County plans to hold off on counting mailed ballots that arrive between Wednesday and Friday while officials await a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether those votes should be counted.

More than 150 workers have been processing and counting those ballots throughout the day. The county elections office said it’s received around 70,000 mail ballots.

“We’re a little backed up at the scanner at this point, but we’re almost done opening and processing the ballots that came in up until Saturday,” county commissioner Ray D’Agostino said.

D’Agostino said he expects a few thousand more mail ballots that were postmarked on Election Day to arrive by Friday.

The Department of State has told counties to separate them from ballots received by Nov. 3. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling allowing ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted if they arrive by the Friday deadline.

Several conservative justices, however, issued an accompanying opinion in that ruling that suggested the court could revisit the question of late-arriving mail-in ballots after the election.

“If the Supreme Court does rule and says, ‘Hey, they shouldn’t be counted,’ it’s kind of hard to retract them once you’ve already counted them,” D’Agostino said. “We’re basically prioritizing other ballots first and just waiting for a ruling. And if a ruling doesn’t come, then we’ll count them.”

The commissioner says ballots that arrive by Friday will be counted within eight days if the Supreme Court does not intervene.

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