A Supreme Court order may be the final nail in the coffin for a Pennsylvania Senate candidate who is trying to overtake celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the Republican primary race. David McCormick and Dr. Oz are separated by fewer than 1,000 votes, but uncounted mail-in ballots may no longer be able to put him over the top.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito put a stay on counting ballots in a separate Pennsylvania race until the matter can be reviewed further. The contested ballots in that case were received on time but were not properly dated by the voter. The order from Alito put a halt to a federal circuit court of appeals ruling stating in its opinion that an improper date should not disqualify a voter.
“Ignoring ballots because the outer envelope was undated, even though the ballot was indisputably received before the deadline for voting serves no purpose other than disenfranchising otherwise qualified voters,” the Third Circuit’s opinion stated. “This is exactly the type of disenfranchisement that Congress sought to prevent.”
The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court almost simultaneously denied a request from McCormick to use its “King’s Bench Powers” and make an authoritative ruling on the matter. Rather, the case will continue to make its way through the normal proceedings in lower courts.
McCormick wants the ballots in question to be counted and has called for a hand recount in 12 counties. More than 1.3 million votes were cast in the GOP primary, making the separation between Oz and McCormick just .07%. That margin is well within the half percent threshold for an automatic recount, the results of which will be announced Jun. 8.
“We’re going to understand with a hand recount where any abnormalities exist and actually have a receipt that we can trust and verify,” a McCormick campaign official told reporters.
Dr. Oz is calling himself the presumptive nominee. The Oz campaign expressed confidence the recount will result in his victory and hoped McCormick would rally support around Oz for the general election.
“David McCormick has been a formidable opponent, but it is becoming obvious that he is likely going to come up short to Dr. Mehmet Oz,” Oz campaign manager Casey Contres previously stated.
The AP contributed to this report.