(NewsGlobal.com)- In Pennsylvania’s tight GOP Senate race, the national Republican Party is siding with celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz and opposing a lawsuit that might help former hedge fund CEO David McCormick reduce the vote deficit.
According to reports, McCormick filed his complaint late Monday, less than 24 hours before the deadline for counties to submit their preliminary findings to the state on Tuesday. In it, McCormick asks the state Commonwealth Court to order counties to follow a recent federal appeals court judgment and count mail-in votes without the requisite handwritten date on the return envelope as soon as possible.
Oz, who has the support of former President Donald Trump, has urged counties not to tally the votes, and the Republican National Committee has threatened to sue McCormick. In a statement, Matt Rayme, the RNC’s general counsel, said election laws are designed to be obeyed.
The action filed by McCormick is the first legal battle between Oz and McCormick. There may be more, as media reports suggest.
Out of 1,341,037 ballots recorded by the state as of Tuesday morning, Oz leads McCormick by 992 votes or 0.07 percentage points. With the difference between the candidates falling inside the legislation’s 0.5 percent range, the election is close enough to activate Pennsylvania’s automatic recount statute. The potential recount could last until June 8.
It’s unclear how many counties have received mail-in votes without a handwritten date. According to election reports, McCormick has been doing better than Oz among mail-in ballots but is behind in the vote count.
On a conservative Philadelphia radio talk program on Monday, McCormick claimed that every Republican vote should count and that his campaign believes the federal court judgment is enforceable on counties.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided late Friday in a separate case that the state election law’s provision of a date next to the voter’s signature on the exterior of return envelopes was “immaterial.” According to reports, the complaint sprang from a judicial election in the county last year, and the three-judge panel concluded there was no cause to refuse to tally the votes in that contest.
The verdict went against Republican positions in Pennsylvania courts in the past when they tried to invalidate legitimate votes cast on time by qualified voters due to technicalities like a missing handwritten date. But according to state law, a date must be written on the envelope in which the ballots are mailed. When counties receive the envelope, it is postmarked by the post office and timestamped by the counties.
Meanwhile, there is no incentive for a voter to date the envelope, and state legislation does not oblige a county to toss it out if it does not include a date.