Jan 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Republican-led Pennsylvania court deems mail-in voting law unconstitutional

Workers count ballots for the 2020 Presidential election at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020
Workers count ballots for the 2020 Presidential election at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Republican-led Pennsylvania court on Friday ruled that the state's mail-in voting law is unconstitutional.

Driving the news: Three Republican judges sided with Republican challengers and ruled that no-excuse mail-in voting is prohibited under the state's constitution. Two Democrats on the panel dissented.

  • "The administration will immediately appeal this decision to the state Supreme Court and today’s lower court ruling will have no immediate effect on mail-in voting pending a final decision on the appeal," a spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement on Friday.

Republicans, led by former President Trump, pushed baseless claims about mail-in voting and fraud after the 2020 election when the state went to President Joe Biden and cast doubt on the voting law.

The big picture: The Pennsylvania state legislature passed a law in 2019 with bipartisan support to allow no-excuse mail voting for all voters, AP reports.

  • Before the 2019 law, the mail-in voting option was available for individuals unable to vote in person for specific reasons.
  • Republicans first sought to overturn the mail-in voting law directly after Trump's defeat in 2020, when they unsuccessfully sought to invalidate millions of mail ballots, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

What they're saying: "If presented to the people, a constitutional amendment… is likely to be adopted. But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people" before legislation like Act 77 can take effect, the court wrote in its opinion.

The other side: "The strength of our democracy and our country depends on eligible voters casting their ballot and selecting their leaders," Wolf's office said.

  • "We need leaders to support removing more barriers to voting, not trying to silence the people."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Gov. Tom Wolf's office.

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