Election Day is just a week away, and some states are still grappling with various legal issues around this year's mail-in voting process. GBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with Northeastern University law professor and GBH News legal analyst Daniel Medwed to discuss some of the major voting rights lawsuits across the country. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: So we've been hearing about restrictions on voting rights in various states around the country, including time constraints on when mail-in ballots must be submitted in order to be counted. That's a big one [and] a real concern with mail-in voting at an all-time high, Daniel, due to the pandemic. And we've got some lawsuits about that.

Daniel Medwed: Well, that's right. Some jurisdictions require only that your mail-in ballot be postmarked by Election Day, but other states require receipt by Election Day. And there's a real issue brewing across the nation about whether those states should extend the deadline for receipt in light of the oddities of this particular election season. [The] Supreme Court just ruled on the case from Wisconsin late last night [and] there's a case pending in the court from North Carolina.

But I really think the litigation from Pennsylvania encapsulates this issue. It really captures it. So here's what's happening in Pennsylvania. There's a law on the books that requires that mail-in ballots be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. That's what the legislature has determined should be the norm. But the state Supreme Court issued a change recently, and they said that in light of the well-documented delays in the U.S. Postal Service, there's a real risk of disenfranchizing voters, so the receipt deadline should be extended to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6 — that is, you postmark your ballot by Election Day and as long as it's received by the 6th, you're OK. Incidentally, that's the rule in Massachusetts this year. But the state Republican Party in Pennsylvania was irate about this. They were aggrieved, so they took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which deadlocked four to four on this issue. And when the U.S. Supreme Court ties like that, the lower court decision stands. That means that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision is the law in Pennsylvania.

Now, the state Republican Party didn't just accept this result, they wanted a mulligan. So late Friday night, they filed another motion with the Supreme Court asking for it to review the case anew [in] sort of a blatant attempt to capitalize on Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation in the hopes that she'll provide that fifth vote. So we really have to watch this Pennsylvania case because, of course, that state is a vital swing state.

Mathieu: It sure is. Now, that's about the timing of mail-in ballots, [but] I want to ask you about contents as we've heard a lot about certain states rejecting so-called "naked ballots." Is the "naked ballot" the pregnant chad of 2020?

Medwed: Well, here's the stripped down version, pardon the pun. For it for the 2020 election, I believe 16 or 17 states require that when you submit your mail-in ballot, you first have to put it in an inner envelope — it's called a security sleeve — and then you put that inner envelope inside the outer mailing envelope for deposit with election officials or in the mailbox. The theory behind this is that ideally it protects the privacy of voters because it makes it harder for the election official who opens that outer envelope to connect the dots between your name and address on the outer envelope and your voting patterns on the ballot. At least that's the theory. A lot of people think it's just another impediment, an obstacle to mail-in voting. So a "naked ballot" is when you forget to put your ballot in that inner sleeve and just send it in on its own.

Mathieu: Like leaving home without your pants.

Medwed: Exactly.

Mathieu: How do states treat naked ballots? I'm guessing there's no consistency here either.

Medwed: As usual, Joe, you're right. There's no consistency; it's a mix. So some states will still count naked ballots. I believe Florida is in this group. They'll just consider it a procedural defect [and] nothing substantive.

But other states, and I fear that Pennsylvania's firmly in this camp, will not count naked ballots. So one legal issue that's really on the plate right now and will probably bleed into next week is whether states have a robust procedure to notify people when their mail-in ballot is deficient — maybe because it's a naked ballot or, in South Carolina, maybe they haven't complied with a witness verification requirement. Do states provide that type of procedure to notify them and an opportunity to cure it before their vote is tossed aside?

Mathieu: The Supreme Court upheld that practice a few weeks ago, when you talk about South Carolina, Daniel. Does that state give voters a chance to cure mistakes with witness signature process?

Medwed: That exact issue is being litigated at the moment. The state Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Charleston just a couple weeks ago trying to compel the state of South Carolina to create a more adequate notice procedure and give voters a real opportunity to cure the deficiency. At the moment, my understanding is that South Carolina lacks really any procedure to do that. And even if South Carolina isn't outcome-determinative in the presidential race, there is certainly a hotly contested senatorial race there that could be very pivotal in terms of how the Senate turns out this November. So we'll have to watch that one, as well.