(RightWing.org) – Did Republicans pass a law in Pennsylvania unconstitutionally allowing for the mail-in voting fiasco the country is now embroiled in? That’s the big question.
In some states, voting by mail was implemented quickly to protect voters during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, that wasn’t the case in Pennsylvania. In the spring of 2019, the Republican-led state legislature amended an existing law that made mail-in voting possible.
On November 21, a lawsuit was filed by a small group of Republican legislators, political candidates, and voters alleging that Act 77 violates the state constitution. Pennsylvania Commonwealth Judge Patricia McCullough appears to agree. On Friday, November 27, Judge McCullough wrote an opinion piece, ordering the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to stop further steps toward certifying the election.
Republicans Amend Voting Laws — May Have Violated the State Constitution
The revision to Act 77 passed by the Republican-led House and Senate allowed voters to mail a ballot up to 50 days prior to an election. Unlike previous restrictions to mail an absentee ballot, no excuse was required.
The plaintiffs argued that the state Constitution does not allow the legislature to expand voting rights without a constitutional amendment. The judge agreed, “Petitioners appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits.” Additionally, McCullough said they have a viable claim in that Act 77 mail-in ballot procedures appear to “contravene” or violate the state constitution.
Judge McCullough agreed with the plaintiffs that Article VII, section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution spells out voter rights. It states that voters must either vote in a polling place on election day or submit an absentee ballot so long as the voter meets specific requirements for the request. It does not allow for other forms of voting. The petitioners argued that the legislature did not properly follow the process to allow for a new class of voters Constitutionally.
Court Orders Election Certification Stopped
Due to the high likelihood the lawsuit has a chance of succeeding, Judge McCullough ordered the state to stop certifying the presidential election results on an emergency and temporary basis. The judge wrote that it was “incumbent upon the court… to maintain the status quo and ensure that all of the parties and the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were not denied their right to a fair and free election.”
McCullough added that those running for office might have suffered irreparable harm and said the mail-in votes “may make the difference” in each election.
The court is scheduling an expedited emergency hearing to move the case forward.
Stay tuned. This is an evolving story with national significance.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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