Pennsylvania court rules state's mail-in ballot law unconstitutional

A Pennsylvania state court on Friday declared the state’s landmark election law unconstitutional, dealing a temporary blow to voting acc...


A Pennsylvania state court on Friday declared the state’s landmark election law unconstitutional, dealing a temporary blow to voting access in one of the nation’s most critical battleground states.

In a 3-2 decision, the state court sided with 14 Republican lawmakers who sued last year, arguing the law was unconstitutional. Pennsylvania filed an appeal with its Supreme Court on Friday afternoon, triggering an automatic stay that keeps the law in place during the appeals process.

The law, known as Bill 77, was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in 2019. He allowed no-excuse mail-in voting, created a permanent mail-in voters list, cut the voter registration deadline from 30 days to 15, and earmarked $90 million for upgrades to electoral infrastructure. It also eliminated direct ticket voting.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Mary Hannah Leavitt, a Republican, said voting ‘requires the physical presence of the voter’ and ruled the Legislature could not make changes to election laws without amending the Constitution of State.

Pennsylvania Democrats said they were not surprised the Commonwealth Court, which they said was rather conservative, ruled against the law. They said they were confident that the appeal to the state Supreme Court, which sided with the state on voting issues during and after the 2020 election, would be successful.

In a statement, Josh Shapiro, the Democratic Pennsylvania attorney general who is also a gubernatorial candidate, called the state court’s decision “flawed.”

“This opinion is based on twisted logic and flawed reasoning, and is wrong in law,” Shapiro said in a statement.

State Republicans celebrated the decision, saying the law was twisted by Democratic state leaders ahead of the 2020 election.

“After what happened in the 2020 and 2021 elections, I have no faith in the no excuse mail provisions on ballots,” said Jake Corman, the top Senate Republican in the United States. ‘State. “There is no doubt that we need a stronger electoral law than what we have in place today.”

The bipartisan law was hailed by both parties when it was passed, but came under fire from conservatives in the 2020 election as former President Donald J. Trump exposed falsehoods and lies about fraud involving postal voting. Eleven of 14 lawmakers who sued to kill the law voted for in 2019.

Following the 2020 election, Representative Mike Kelly, a Republican from northwestern Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn federal race results and claimed Bill 77 was unconstitutional.

But his efforts were harshly rebuffed by the state Supreme Court, which ruled the law had been in place for more than a year without legal challenge until Mr Trump lost Pennsylvania.

“Dissatisfied with the results of that bet, they would now turn the tables, scattering the votes of millions of Pennsylvanians into the shadows,” Judge David Wecht said. wrote after the election. “It is not our role to lend legitimacy to such transparent and untimely efforts to overturn the will of Pennsylvania voters. Courts should not decide elections when the will of the voters is clear.

An appeal by Mr. Kelly to the United States Supreme Court was also refused.

Yet Republican attempts to void the 2020 election based on challenges to Bill 77 have continued. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, a Republican, challenged Pennsylvania’s voter roll on January 6, 2021, saying state lawmakers passed Bill 77 “regardless of what the Pennsylvania Constitution says.”

Soon after, rioters stormed the US Capitol. Later that night, Pennsylvania voters were seated.

“This is just a continuation of the attacks and the undermining of our electoral process,” said State Sen. Jay Costa, Democratic Minority Leader.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Pennsylvania court rules state's mail-in ballot law unconstitutional
Pennsylvania court rules state's mail-in ballot law unconstitutional
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