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Ballot extensions in 2 key states survive Supreme Court, but Pa. fight not over

Ballots that arrive several days late in the pivotal battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and North Carolina will get counted. But whether all those votes will actually count in the contest for president is still not sure.

That's the main takeaway from back-to-back rulings Wednesday from the Supreme Court. They were likely the last important voting decisions before an Election Day where the ground rules have been whipsawed as never before by partisan litigation fueled by a pandemic.

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In Pennsylvania, Supreme Court punts on constitutional issues. For now.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on an important absentee voting case from Pennsylvania means that, for now, mail-in ballots will have more time to arrive and be counted in this key swing state. That could have a significant impact on the election, but this might not be the last word from the high court.

The justices were reviewing a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar. Many commentators had expected the Supreme Court to stay that decision, as requested by state Republicans, and in so doing possibly address difficult questions about the meaning of some key provisions in the U.S. Constitution. But with only a few weeks to go before the election, and on a 4-4 vote, the Supreme Court avoided reaching the underlying questions. The state ruling will stand for now.

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Pennsylvania election officials cannot begin processing mail-in ballots before Election Day, ensuring the winner of the state's 20 electoral votes will not be known for days.

GOP looks to keep fighting against late-arriving mail ballots in Pennsylvania

Republicans signaled Tuesday they are not giving up their effort to shut down the vote count on Election Day in Pennsylvania, hours after the Supreme Court delivered a significant win to Democrats by permitting absentee ballots in the pivotal battleground to arrive later.

Word from GOP leaders in the state magnified the realities that legal fighting over almost every aspect of the presidential race is far from over — and that Judge Amy Coney Barrett could play a deciding role in this year's essential democratic exercise as soon as she arrives on the high court, probably next week.

For the time being, though, the situation in Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes crucial to both candidates, is something of a good news, bad news situation for an already confused electorate.

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Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf wants to speed the count by allowing processing of mail ballots before Election Day. Republicans in Harrisburg want to restrict drop boxes.

Pennsylvania may decide the election, but has to decide many rules first

Eighteen days from when the voting stops, no battleground state has its election procedures more up in the air than Pennsylvania.

Whether to permit an extension for the arrival of absentee ballots will be decided any day by the U.S. Supreme Court, protecting or disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters.

Whether to reject ballots for sloppy signatures will be decided any day by the state Supreme Court, determining the validity of thousands more votes.

Whether to allow processing of mailed ballots before Election Day will be decided any day at the state capital, either speeding or delaying results that could settle who wins the presidency.

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