Court Finds Pennsylvania’s 2019 Law That Permitted No-Excuse Mail-In Voting Unconstitutional

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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A Pennsylvania court found Friday that the state’s 2019 mail-in ballot law is unconstitutional.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bipartisan Act 77 into law back in 2019, which allowed for no-excuse absentee voting, established a permanent mail-in voter list, eliminated straight-ticket voting and reduced the voter registration deadline to 15 days rather than 30. Republicans compromised with Democrats on mail-in voting at the time in order to eliminate straight-ticket voting, according to Fox 43.

Republican Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt ruled Friday in favor of 14 Republican lawmakers who sued the state last year, arguing the law was unconstitutional because it allowed for voters to receive a mail-in ballot even if they do not meet one of the constitutional exceptions for absentee voting. Of the 14 challengers, 11 had voted for the law in 2019, The New York Times (NYT) reported.

Leavitt said that “if presented to the people, a constitutional amendment to end Article VII, Section 1 requirement of in-person voting is likely to be adopted.” (RELATED: Pennsylvania Can Count Ballots With Or Without Postmarks Through Nov. 6 After Supreme Court Deadlocks)

“But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people and adopted into our fundamental law before legislation allowing no-excuse mail-in voting can be ‘placed upon our statute books,'” the ruling added.

“In the 2020 general election, 2.7 million ballots were cast as mail-in or absentee ballots; more than 1.38 million Pennsylvania electors have requested to be placed on a permanent mail-in ballot list,” Leavitt wrote in a companion opinion, according to ABC 27. “Given these numbers, it is obvious that no-excuse mail-in voting impacts a candidate’s campaign strategy. We conclude that Petitioners have standing.”

Democratic state Sen. and Minority Leader Jay Costa said the ruling “is just a continuation of attacking and undermining our electoral process,” according to the NYT.

“Act 77 will ultimately be deemed to be constitutional,” Costa reportedly said, noting he would file an appeal.