Speaking of counting the ballots, on Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballots cast without a handwritten date on the envelope may not be counted. State law requires such a date. It is not clear to us why the legislature put such a provision in the law, but it did. After all, if the ballot is received by Election Day, it hardly matters when it was filled out, but such is the law.
The big question to which we have no answer is: Which party benefits from this ruling? In the 2020 presidential election, there were 381,000 absentee ballots (overwhelmingly from Democrats) and 8,300 had no date. That is 2%. If 1.5% are for Democrats and 0.5% are for Republicans, not counting them moves the needle about 1% toward the Republicans.
However, Philadelphia isn't the whole state. There is also the "Alabama" part between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Here many voters are older Republicans and older people are more likely than, say, 40-year-olds, to make simple clerical errors like forgetting to date the envelope. It is possible that here the ruling hurts the Republicans.
Some counties may try to notify voters of the defect before Election Day and invite them to come to election central to add the date to the envelope. This could result in a patchwork in which forgetting to fill in the date can be cured in some counties and not in others. If you are going to vote by absentee ballot in any state but haven't done so yet, please (1) get on the stick and do it today because the mail is slow and (2) read and follow the directions carefully. (V)