A US Supreme Court judge on Friday denied a motion by the Pennsylvania Republicans to immediately stop counting post-election ballots and referred the appeal to the court for a ruling on Saturday.
Samuel Alito, meanwhile, ordered Pennsylvania to keep late-arriving ballots segregated, upholding a decision already made by the state’s chief electoral officer.
The final petition for an injunction tabled as Democrat Joe Biden cemented his leadership and sought to defeat President Donald Trump targeted thousands of ballots.
Most are believed to prefer Biden, and Republicans say they should be disqualified under Pennsylvania state law.
As a first step, the party wanted the Supreme Court to order that ballot papers arriving after 8 p.m. on election night be separated from others and that they are not counted.
The concern is that if they get mixed up with other ballots any attempt to disqualify them will become impossible.
“Given the results of the November 3, 2020 general election, the Pennsylvania vote could determine the next president of the United States,” Republicans said.
“It is unclear whether all 67 electoral boards in the county will separate late-arriving ballots,” the petition added.
Republicans have been fighting for months against a government decision to accept postal ballot papers that are postmarked by November 3rd and arrive by Friday. Previously, the deadline for adoption was election day.
The Federal Supreme Court ruled the decision legal and an appeal was then lodged under the federal system.
On October 19, the US Supreme Court, which had one vacant seat, left the decision of the state court in a 4-4 separate decision based on conservative-liberal considerations.
However, the Supreme Court said it could take up the case after the election and now has nine members after Trump-nominated Conservative Amy Coney Barrett joined in late October.
Trump has specifically said he wanted Barrett in court for every election case.
Friday’s petition seemed more broadly aimed at delaying the final vote of the eastern state’s votes, effectively turning the election over to Biden.
A delay could give the Supreme Court time to reopen the larger case of the legality of the late ballots.
Even if the court imposes a count extension, it may not make a difference. Election analysts say the number of late votes could be far less than Biden’s lead over Trump in the state.