Mail-in ballots must have dates on envelopes, Pennsylvania appeals court rules

Mar 29, 2024 | Political News

A Pennsylvania federal appeals court has ruled that mail-in ballots received without accurate handwritten dates on the outside of envelopes are not valid, a ruling that will have a significant impact on this year's elections in the key battleground state. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled 2-1 on Wednesday, overturning a lower court’s November decision.

The lower court had ruled that even without the proper dates, mail-in ballots should be counted if received on time. The court said that “trivial paperwork” errors disenfranchised voters and violated the Materiality Provision of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that immaterial errors or omissions should not be used to prevent voting.

But in Wednesday’s federal appeals court’s opinion, Judge Thomas Ambro wrote that under a state legislature passed law, mail-in voters must write the date on their envelopes in order to make their vote effective.