The US Supreme Court on Friday denied a request by Pennsylvania's Republicans to instantly halt the counting of ballots arriving after Election Day referring to the challenge to the full court for a ruling on Saturday. Samuel Alito ordered Pennsylvania in the meantime to continue keeping the late-arriving ballots separate, affirming a decision already made by the state's top elections official.

The last-ditch petition for an emergency directive filed as Democrat Joe Biden solidified his lead and was assured to defeat President Donald Trump targeted thousands of ballots. Most are believed to favor Biden, and Republicans say they should be disqualified under Pennsylvania state law.

As a first step, the party wanted the high court to order ballots arriving after 8:00 pm on election night to be kept apart from others and prevent them from being tallied. The concern is that if they are mixed with other ballots, it would render any attempt to disqualify them impossible.

Given the results of the November 3, 2020 general election, the vote in Pennsylvania may well determine the next president of the United States, the Republicans said.

It is unclear whether all 67 county boards of elections are segregating late-arriving ballots, the petition added. Republicans have for months been fighting a state decision to accept mail-in ballots postmarked by November 3 and arriving by Friday. Previously the deadline for acceptance was Election Day itself.

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