Kansas AG wades into Pennsylvania ballot-deadline conflict

    Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt supports a U.S. Supreme Court review of a Pennsylvania state court decision allowing election ballots to be accepted up to three days after Election Day. That state court decision mirrors Kansas law. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
    Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt supports a U.S. Supreme Court review of a Pennsylvania state court decision allowing election ballots to be accepted up to three days after Election Day. That state court decision mirrors Kansas law. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

    TOPEKA — The Kansas attorney general urged the U.S. Supreme Court to settle constitutional questions about the authority of state courts to extend deadlines for accepting election ballots in a controversy emerging in swing-state Pennsylvania.

    Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, said the issue should be weighed by the nation’s highest court regardless of outcome of the presidential election.

    News outlets declared Democratic nominee Joe Biden winner of the national popular vote and of the electoral college tally, but President Donald Trump raised unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Biden narrowly prevailed over Trump in Pennsylvania.

    Schmidt asserted the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution by requiring election boards to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 6. The Republican Party in Peennsylvania appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing a state statute required ballots to be returned by Election Day. The nation’s highest court declined to hear the case.

    In Kansas, state law permits counting of ballots postmarked by Election Day but received up to three days later.

    “Courts, both before and during the pandemic, have upheld Election Day receipt deadlines, and COVID-19 does not make these laws unconstitutional,” Schmidt wrote in a brief supporting U.S. Supreme Court review.

    Schmidt joined other Republican attorneys general in seeking “clear direction to courts in every state” about constitutionality of judicial alteration of election law established by state legislatures.

     

     

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    Tim Carpenter
    Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.