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A Nov. 1 ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that absentee or mail-in ballots received in “undated” and/or “incorrectly dated” outer envelopes will not be counted for the Nov. 8 election. The lawsuit was a victory for the Republican plaintiffs.
John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, along with other Democrats filed a lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to require counties to count the undated/incorrectly dated ballots. That lawsuit remained pending as of the morning after Election Day.
Both parties have a right to seek action from the courts; that is not akin to election stealing.
Pennsylvania Democrats including John Fetterman filed a lawsuit a day before Election Day seeking a court order to count undated and wrongly dated mail ballots.
An Instagram user said that means "he is suing for the right to cheat and steal the election."
The Instagram post was filed before some media outlets including The New York Times projected that Fetterman beat Republican Mehmet Oz in the U.S. Senate race. With about 94% of the ballots counted by the morning of Nov. 9, Fetterman was leading by about 152,000 votes. He had 50.3% of the vote while Oz had 47.3%.
The post was flagged as part of Instagram’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Fetterman’s campaign and national Democratic groups filed a lawsuit in federal court Nov. 7 seeking an order to require Pennsylvania’s 67 county election boards to count thousands of undated and incorrectly dated ballots.
It’s unknown how many such ballots there are statewide. The Pennsylvania State Department sent a survey to the counties days before Election Day asking them to report how many such ballots they had. The majority of the counties didn’t respond to the survey, but numbers have been reported about two of the most populous jurisdictions.
An Allegheny County elections office spokesperson told PolitiFact that it had approximately 900 undated or incorrected dated ballots. CNN reported Sunday that Philadelphia had more than 1,800 such ballots. Although a statewide number was unavailable, it seemed it would likely be far lower than Fetterman’s 152,000 margin.
On Nov. 1, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that county election boards are not allowed to count any absentee or mail-in ballots that are contained in "undated" or "incorrectly dated" outer envelopes. The lawsuit was filed by Republican groups that sought to have election officials reject undated or incorrectly dated ballots.
On Nov. 5, the court issued a supplementary ruling that clarified the acceptable window of dates written on outer envelopes. For envelopes carrying mail-in ballots, handwritten dates before Sept. 19 or after Nov. 8 should be rejected. For absentee votes, envelopes with handwritten dates before Aug. 30 or after Nov. 8 should also be rejected.
The Fetterman lawsuit argued that the state Supreme Court ruling led to "rejecting qualified voters who accidentally failed to write the date on their ballot envelope."
The Democrats’ lawsuit remained pending as of early Nov. 9. Regardless of the outcome, the lawsuit was not a plot to cheat or steal. Such a statement would be akin to saying that the Republicans sought to cheat or steal by suing to prevent the counting of undated ballots. What both parties did is legal: They sought what they wanted in court, and it’s up to the courts to rule.
A conspiracy to steal an election would require election officials across multiple jurisdictions to conspire to commit felonies. There is no evidence that happened.
Pennsylvania takes several steps to provide secure elections such as partnering with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct vulnerability assessments of the commonwealth's cybersecurity. Every county election board inspects and tests each piece of voting and tabulating equipment before an election. Voters who apply for mail or absentee ballots must provide proof of ID.
An Instagram post said Fetterman "is suing for the right to cheat and steal the election."
Fetterman’s campaign along with national Democratic groups filed a lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to require counties to count undated or incorrectly dated ballots. Both parties have sued over such ballots, and they have a right to seek action from the courts. That is not akin to election stealing.
We rate this claim False.
U.S. District Court western district of Pennsylvania, Lawsuit about mail in ballots filed by Fetterman campaign and Democratic groups, Nov. 7, 2022
Pennsylvania Department of State, Election Security in Pennsylvania, Accessed Nov. 7, 2022
New York Times, Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Election Results, Nov. 9, 2022
Email interview, Amie Downs, spokesperson for Allegheny County elections office, Nov. 9, 2022
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