Pennsylvania Court Declares Expanded Voting By Mail Law Unconstitutional – CBS Pittsburgh

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A statewide court on Friday found Pennsylvania’s expanded two-year-old vote-by-mail law unconstitutional, agreeing with challenges from Republicans, who have dropped vote by mail after President Donald Trump began unfounded attacks it was rife with fraud during the 2020 campaign.

The decision, by a five-judge Commonwealth Court panel of three Republicans and two Democrats, is deemed effective immediately since Governor Tom Wolf’s swift administration appeal to the State Supreme Court.

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However, the decision puts Pennsylvania’s voting law into question as voters in the presidential battleground state prepare to elect a new governor and a new US senator in 2022.

Just over 2.5 million people voted under the law to expand voting by mail in the 2020 presidential election, most of them Democrats, out of a total of 6.9 million voters.

Wolf’s office said its appeal meant the lower court’s ruling had no immediate effect and criticized Republicans for trying to kill the law “in the service of a ‘big lie’. ‘” about Trump’s baseless election fraud claims.

“We need leaders to help remove more barriers to voting, not try to silence people,” Wolf’s office said.

Trump and Republicans quickly welcomed the decision.

“Big news from Pennsylvania, great patriotism is growing at a level no one thought possible. Let’s Make America Great Again! Trump said in a statement through his political action committee.

The vote-by-mail law has become a hot topic of the campaign, with nearly every Republican candidate for governor – including two of the three state senators who voted for it – vowed to abolish it.

Even Republicans who avoid repeating Trump’s baseless election fraud claims have perpetuated the idea that Democrats have rigged the 2020 presidential election, frequently. make the actions of judges and public officials “unconstitutional” or “illegal” in the resolution of legal disputes and mail-in questions in voting laws.

In Friday’s decision, three Republican judges agreed with Republican challengers – including 11 Republican lawmakers who actually voted for the legislation – and ruled that the vote by Letters of no reason are prohibited under the state constitution, until the constitution is changed to allow it.

Two Democrats on the panel disagreed. The state’s Supreme Court – which will hear the appeal – has a 5-2 Democratic majority.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat running for governor, said he was confident the state Supreme Court would uphold the vote-by-mail law as constitutional.

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He criticized the lower court’s views as “based on twisted logic and faulty inference” and “wrong with the law.”

In 2019, the Republican-controlled Legislature made voting by mail free for all voters, expanding under a provision in the state constitution that requires the state to provide the option to voters in specific cases.

Those circumstances include business travel, illness, physical disability, election day duties, or religious observance.

Every Republican legislator, except one, voted for the legislation in the agreement with Wolf, a Democrat who sought a vote-by-mail provision. In return, Wolf agreed to eliminate the outright voting option that Republicans have sought as a way to protect their suburban candidates from the anti-Trump wave in the 2020 election.

The Constitution does not explicitly state that the Legislature cannot extend absentee voting rights to others.

However, Republican challengers say the constitution intends that absentee voting is strictly limited, citing a passage that says voters must live in a constituency for at least 60 days where they “will propose to vote”.

Of the opinion, three Republican judges agreed, saying that passage was cited in two previous state Supreme Court decisions that invalidated laws passed in 1839 and 1923 to extend absentee voting.

Dissenting Democrats said a separate provision of the constitution empowered lawmakers to offer no-reason mail-in voting. That provision states that the elections “shall be effected by ballot or by such other method as may be required by law.”

In addition to baselessly attacking voting by mail for much of 2020, Trump also later claimed, without evidence, that the election was stolen from him in key battleground states including Pennsylvania. .

In a post-election lawsuit in 2020, Republicans sought to invalidate the vote-by-mail law and remove all ballots elected under that law in an attempt to overturn Democrat Joe’s victory. Biden in Pennsylvania.

The state’s Supreme Court issued the notice, saying the plaintiffs “did not act prudently” while waiting to challenge the law until after Trump lost the election.

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The US Supreme Court rejected the intervention appeal. Pennsylvania Court Declares Expanded Voting By Mail Law Unconstitutional – CBS Pittsburgh


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