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The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court heard arguments Tuesday from lawyers representing Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick — who disagree on whether the Republican Senate primary election recount process should consider undated mail-in ballots.
Oz, a television host and surgeon, currently leads McCormick, a former Bush official and hedge fund executive, by fewer than 1,000 votes. The Pennsylvania Department of State ordered a recount in accordance with commonwealth law, which mandates recounts when candidates finish within 0.5% of one another.
McCormick sued in Pennsylvania court after the primary race to make county election boards tally undated mail-in ballots. Both candidates’ legal teams presented their cases before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.
“McCormick, citing a recent opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, says the state’s current practice of rejecting them is arbitrary and done under a rule that serves no legitimate purpose in determining the eligibility of the voter,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. “McCormick has generally outperformed Oz in mail voting and he hopes that counting the roughly 860 undated mail ballots statewide can help him make up his deficit.”
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has sided with the Oz campaign’s position in similar past cases, according to the outlet. “But it will be interesting to see whether the Third Circuit’s opposite stance on the issue influences its thinking going forward.”
Some county boards — including those overseeing the Lancaster and Cumberland county elections — plan to start tallying by Tuesday, according to WGAL. All counties begin counting by Wednesday, finish their recounts by Tuesday, June 7, and report their results to the state by the next day.
Oz declared himself the “presumptive Republican nominee” in a social media video on Friday. “It’s time to unite. I want to hear your ideas and make this country’s future as bright as it has ever been,” Oz said. “With more freedom, less big government, and by empowering our people, America’s light will shine brighter than ever.”
The Oz campaign has support from the Republican National Convention (RNC).
“The RNC is intervening in this lawsuit alongside the Pennsylvania GOP because election laws are meant to be followed, and changing the rules when ballots are already being counted harms the integrity of our elections,” RNC chief counsel Matt Raymer said in a statement. “Either of Pennsylvania’s leading Republican Senate candidates would represent the Keystone State better than a Democrat, but Pennsylvania law is clear that undated absentee ballots may not be counted.”
McCormick’s suit argues that the county election boards are “disenfranchising” voters. The suit, therefore, demands that the boards count ballots “that were returned on time but that lack a handwritten date on the exterior mailing envelope.” Meanwhile, the Oz campaign said McCormick is “following the Democrats’ playbook” and decreasing voters’ confidence in the election.
Oz or McCormick will face Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the winner of the Democratic Senate primary, in November. Fetterman — who served as the mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, before becoming lieutenant governor in 2019 — carried every county and more than doubled U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb’s share of the Democratic electorate.