HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The campaign of David McCormick, who is in a neck-and-neck Republican primary contest for the U.S. Senate against celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, sued in a Pennsylvania court Monday to try to ensure counties obey a brand-new federal appeals court decision that could help him make up ground.
McCormick’s lawsuit, filed after hours, asks the state’s Commonwealth Court to require counties to promptly count mail-in ballots that lack a required handwritten date on the return envelope. It is the first — but likely not the last — lawsuit in the contest between Oz and McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO.
McCormick’s campaign said at least two counties — Blair and Allegheny — suggested they would not count the ballots as part of their unofficial result that each county must report to the state Tuesday.
Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, led McCormick by 992 votes, or 0.07 percentage points, out of 1,341,037 ballots reported to the state as of 6 p.m. Monday.
The race is close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law, with the separation between the candidates inside the law’s 0.5% margin. The Associated Press will not declare a winner in the race until the likely recount is complete.
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Ruling in a separate case late Friday, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state election law’s requirement of a date next to the voter’s signature on the outside of return envelopes was “immaterial.”
It’s not clear how many mail-in ballots that lack a handwritten date have been received by counties. Although he trails the vote count, McCormick has been doing better than Oz among mail-in ballots.