The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a blow to Republicans on Monday with a split vote that effectively allows Pennsylvania to keep its extended mail-in voting period.
The justices’ 4-4 tie leaves in place a lower court ruling that will let state officials count ballots received after Election Day unless there’s evidence they were sent after the deadline. Election officials have three days to count those votes, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined last month.
Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the lower court’s decision, arguing that it would “destroy the American public’s confidence in the electoral system as a whole.”
Monday’s split vote is expected to have sweeping effects in the swing state at a time when thousands more people are expected to vote by mail due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The court’s four most conservative justices, two of whom were appointed by President Donald Trump, would have taken up the case, the Supreme Court said in its announcement. The court is down one vote due to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month, though Republicans are rushing to replace her with Trump’s newest appointee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.