This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.
A judge in Pennsylvania did not order local officials to count mail ballots received six days after Election Day, contrary to viral misinformation on Twitter claiming so.
No such order adjusting the ballot deadline from Nov. 8 to Nov. 14 has been issued by a judge in Pennsylvania, nor has such a case been brought. The deadline remains 8 p.m. today, for all mail-in and in-person ballots.
A post making the claim Tuesday came from a user named Kyle Becker, whose profile says he is a journalist who has worked for Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News.
The post received more than 6,000 retweets in less than two hours, and similar misinformation appeared in other users’ tweets. Then Becker deleted it, saying he pulled the tweet down because it “wasn’t worded perfectly.”
An email seeking comment sent to an address listed on Becker’s website was returned as undeliverable.
Jeff Greenburg — Mercer County’s former longtime elections director who is now a senior adviser to The Voter Project, a Pennsylvania nonprofit focused on voting access — said he suspects Becker may have conflated news about Philadelphia’s poll book reconciliation process, which was in court Monday, with a misunderstanding about mail-in voter verification, which are two unrelated issues. Neither of the issues involves changing the ballot deadline.
Becker’s tweets included a Spotlight PA story about a change to Philadelphia’s poll book reconciliation process, which did not make any reference to Nov. 14, and a subsequent tweet Becker sent out also confirmed he had conflated the two issues.
Greenburg said his best guess was that the misunderstanding of the Nov. 14 date comes from the deadline by which voters who have voted by mail, but not verified their identification, have to present a valid form of ID. Some registered voters who applied for mail-in ballots did not write down proper identification at the time and must submit correct identification to their county board of elections within six days to have their ballots be counted, Greenburg said. Those ballots still need to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, fewer than 7,000 such “unverified” ballots remain in Pennsylvania as of Monday.
A spokesperson for the Department of State did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the tweet.
In Pennsylvania, military and overseas ballots received by 5 p.m. Nov. 15 are also valid to be counted, so long as they are accompanied by an affidavit affirming they were cast by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 7.
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