(Vicktor Skinner, The Center Square) – A Pennsylvania court struck down the commonwealth’s mail-in voting law as unconstitutional Friday, citing the state constitution’s requirement for in-person voting.
“No-excuse mail-in voting makes the exercise of the franchise more convenient and has been used four times in the history of Pennsylvania,” Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt wrote. “If presented to the people, a constitutional amendment to end the Article VII, Section 1 requirement of in-person voting is likely to be adopted. But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people and adopted into our fundamental law before legislation authorizing no-excuse mail-in voting can ‘be placed upon our statute books.’ ”
The ruling targets Act 77, which was approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2019. It created Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting law.
The law allowed voters to submit ballots up to 50 days before an election and to receive ballot applications by mail. It also expanded voter registration, extended submission deadlines, included rules for voting machine decertification and appropriated funding for voting machine upgrades.
More than 2.5 million people voted by mail in the 2020 presidential election, mostly Democrats, out of a total of 6.9 million votes cast, The Associated Press reported.
Fourteen Republicans in the Pennsylvania House filed a lawsuit last August challenging the mail voting law. The state and national Democratic parties partnered with several Republican county committees to defend the lawsuit.
The decision will be appealed to the state Supreme Court, where five Democrat justices serve with two Republicans.
While an appeal for the mail-in voting law may yet be made, former President Donald Trump celebrated the ruling:
“Big news out of Pennsylvania, great patriotic spirit is developing at a level that nobody thought possible,” Trump said in a statement. “Make America Great Again!”