The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, November 5, 2020.
Erin Scott | Reuters
The Republican Party of Pennsylvania asked the US Supreme Court on Friday to discontinue a rolling number of postal ballot papers received in that state after election day. This happened a few hours after Democratic candidate Joe Biden overtook President Donald Trump in the vote there.
The party also asked the Supreme Court to instruct the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania to log and segregate these ballots, but not take any further action, including counting them, for the time being.
The GOP was already trying to overturn an order from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that extended the normal 8 p.m. ET election day deadline by 5pm on Friday.
Hours later, on Friday, US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ordered the Pennsylvania county electoral officer to separate any ballot papers received in the mail after 8 p.m. Tuesday and counting them separately from other ballots.
Alito's order essentially dictates guidelines issued by Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to counties over the past two weeks asking them to separate ballots received after election day.
But for the time being, Alito did not grant the request to stop the ongoing counting of the subsequent ballot papers.
Instead, he referred the question to a conference with his judges and instructed that any state response should be submitted by 2:00 p.m. Saturday.
The party wants ballots received after election day to be segregated and not counted so that they can be invalid as a group if their broader efforts at the US Supreme Court to lift the deadline are successful.
It is not clear how many mail-in ballots received after election day are among the tens of thousands of mail-in ballots that have not been counted in the state.
But Boockvar told CNN on Thursday that she didn't believe the ballots received during the extension period would affect the outcome of the presidential race "unless it's very close".
Boockvar said that the state's largest counties only received around 500 ballots each after election day, while some smaller counties did not.
On Friday afternoon, Biden led Trump with more than 27,000 votes. The former vice president had 3.33 million votes against 3.3 million votes for the incumbent president, up 49.6% to 49.2% on Friday night. About 4% of the expected total votes still had to be counted.
In Pennsylvania, 20 Electoral College votes are at stake.
If Biden, who currently has 253 votes from other states, wins the Pennsylvania referendum, he will be projected to win the White House race according to the latest analysis by NBC News.
A candidate must win at least 270 votes in the electoral college to be elected president.
Trump had headed Biden in the ongoing Pennsylvania election census until Friday morning when Biden fell short of the Republican President because of his strong performance in postal ballot counting.
Biden surpassed Trump in both Democratic and Republican districts postal ballot counts, and his lead increased as the day wore on.
"Given the November 3, 2020 general election results, the Pennsylvania vote could well determine the next President of the United States – and it is currently unclear whether all 67 county's electoral boards will separate late-arriving ballots," the state said in GOP its filing with the US Supreme Court.
"Without an immediate order from that court, [the party] could lose its right to" targeted appeal "if the Supreme Court decision is ultimately overturned. "