Federal court changes ballot rules in Pennsylvania — potentially scrambling razor-thin vote count in GOP Senate race
Dr. Oz, heart surgeon & television personality speaks, at the Web Summit, Lisbon. (Shutterstock.com)

On Friday, POLITICO reported that a federal appeals court has overruled Pennsylvania state court guidance on how to count certain ambiguously-marked absentee ballots — a move that will reduce the likelihood that several hundred people's ballots will be rejected, but that also throws a monkey wrench into a painfully close Senate Republican primary vote where the count is already in progress.

Currently, fewer than 2,000 votes separate TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz and hedge fund magnate David McCormick in the contentious Senate primary — and an automatic recount appears all but certain whoever has the most ballots initially.

"On Friday afternoon, a three-judge panel for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals issued a judgment saying election officials should count several hundred mail ballots that were submitted without a date written on their mailing envelopes in a Nov. 2021 county judgeship election, as long as they were otherwise received on time," reported Zach Montellaro and Holly Otterbein.

"It was not immediately clear how sweeping the reach of the circuit court’s ruling will be because a formal opinion from the panel is still forthcoming. But it could have a serious impact on the Senate race," said the report. "Oz and McCormick were separated by about 1,100 votes as of Friday afternoon, and the ruling could introduce into the pool an as-yet-unknown number of similarly-situated ballots that would not have initially been counted. A spokesperson for the Department of State told POLITICO that it was not immediately clear how many ballots that were otherwise received in a timely fashion by county election officials were rejected because of a missing date."

Trump endorsed Oz for Senate in the race, which also featured controversial firebrand talk radio host Kathy Barnette.

On his Truth Social media platform, Trump has urged Oz to declare victory even with the count currently undecided, and has demanded that Pennsylvania officials stop counting even eligible ballots.