The Republican National Committee sides with Trump-endorsed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in a ballot-counting dispute in Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary

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Trump, Dr Oz
Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz joins former President Donald Trump onstage during a rally in support of his campaign at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds on May 6, 2022 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
  • The RNC is intervening in a lawsuit over undated mail ballots in Pennsylvania that could help Dr. Oz.

  • Oz, Trump's endorsed candidate, and Dave McCormick are locked in a razor-thin Senate contest.

  • The RNC is siding against a lawsuit filed by McCormick that could be decisive in the race.

The Republican National Committee is wading into a lawsuit over counting undated mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania's still too-close-to-call Senate primary, an intervention that could help former President Donald Trump's candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz. 

The RNC sided against Oz's opponent, Dave McCormick, in a lawsuit McCormick filed to count an undetermined number of mail ballots that lack a handwritten date on the outer envelope, as required under Pennsylvania law.

"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," the RNC's chief counsel Matt Raymer said in a statement to Insider.

"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," Raymer added.

McCormick filed the suit in state court following a May 20 federal court decision ruling that, under the Civil Rights Act, election officials must count the more than 250 similarly-undated ballots cast in Lehigh County in Pennsylvania's 2021 election.

The federal court decision on the undated ballots, which came down three days after Pennsylvania's May 17 primary, threw a wrench in what was already a razor-thin Senate contest between Oz, the celebrity TV doctor, and McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO.

McCormick's lawyers are also arguing that ballots without a handwritten date should be counted because mail-in ballots are postmarked and dated by the US Postal Service anyway, according to The New York Times.

Oz's campaign manager said in a statement that the campaign would "oppose the McCormick legal team's request that election boards ignore both Pennsylvania's Supreme Court and state election law and accept legally rejected ballots."

Oz now leads McCormick by just 990 votes, or a margin of 0.07 percentage points, according to Insider's partners at Decision Desk HQ, meaning the contest is certain to head to a recount under Pennsylvania's 0.5 percentage-point automatic recount threshold. The recount and the litigation between the two camps means the race may not be resolved for weeks.

An RNC spokesperson told Insider that the party isn't seeking to explicitly favor Oz over McCormick with its legal intervention, but to set a precedent for the future that undated ballots should not be counted. The issue of undated ballots also came up during the highly litigated and scrutinized 2020 presidential election, with Republicans then also suing for them not to be counted.

While the Oz-McCormick contest is a Republican primary, some Republicans worry that the federal court decision, and a decision favoring McCormick in state court, could benefit Democratic candidates, whose voters are more likely to vote by mail, in future elections down the line.

"To be clear, Dave McCormick is pursuing a legal strategy that will not yield enough votes for him to win this election but could set a dangerous legal precedent in Pennsylvania for years to come and cost the GOP general elections, including the presidency," one Republican strategist, Chris Hansen, tweeted on Monday night.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party too said in a statement that while it "looks forward to supporting the Pennsylvania Republican US Senate nominee, whoever it may be, we absolutely object to the counting of undated mail in ballots."

 

Read the original article on Business Insider