HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Republican race for Pennsylvania’s open United States Senate seat is still too close to call and on Monday, the focus is on mail-in ballots that were not dated. The rules say toss them, but a federal court recently said otherwise and the state is still unsure how to proceed.

While candidate Dave McCormick shared with abc27’s Dennis Owens that he was feeling great just days after the race was too close to call, he would feel better if he wasn’t trailing candidate Mehmet Oz by about a thousand votes.

“There’s still many, many thousands of votes, Republican votes, that have not yet been counted,” McCormick said.

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A federal court ruled Friday that mail-in ballots without a required date on the return envelope must be allowed in a 2021 Lehigh County judge race, a decision that could complicate the ongoing process of vote counting in the state’s neck-and-neck primary.

Elections officials, lawyers, and candidates are scrambling to understand and respond to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which was issued late in the day without a written opinion laying out its rationale.

“As more votes come in, I suspect the gap between myself and Mehmet Oz will close and we’ll see where we get,” McCormick said.

Analysts say it needs to get closer for the inevitable recount to matter.

“You’re not gonna see a recount change 1,050 votes you could see a recount change two or three hundred votes so it really depends on where does that final margin from election day in this race end up,” Chris Nicholas, Eagle Consulting Group, explained.

McCormick has been doing better than Oz among mail-in ballots and McCormick’s campaign quickly wrote to the state’s 67 counties to advise them of the decision and request a hearing if they won’t count the ballots in question.

“I think you’re thinking when are we gonna really unleash the lawyers, which is what this election is going to come down to,” said Danielle Gross, Shelly Lyons Communications.

McCormick pledged to support Oz, who declined abc27’s request for an interview, should his rival ultimately prevail.

“I’m willing to accept whatever the results will be as long as every vote is counted and that’s what I’ll be fighting for,” McCormick said.

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As for mail-in ballots that are not dated, the counties are holding them aside.

Pennsylvania allowed only limited use of absentee mail-in ballots until 2019, when a state law permitted them for voters who did not otherwise qualify from a list of acceptable excuses. Mail-in ballots proved popular in 2020, as the pandemic raged, but their widespread use has also brought litigation over the new law.

lawsuit seeking to invalidate the mail-in voting law is pending before the state Supreme Court. More than 2.5 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail during 2020′s presidential election, most of them Democrats, out of 6.9 million total votes.


Associated Press reporters Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania and Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.