Pennsylvania Court Halts Mail-In Voting


A five-judge panel on Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court stopped a provision that allows mail-in voting throughout the state, ruling the measure unconstitutional.

Proponents of the lawsuit argued that any permanent change to the election code of the state must be performed through constitutional amendment. In order for a constitutional amendment to be enacted, the measure must pass the legislature during two consecutive sessions.

After the measure passes in the Legislature, residents of the state must vote to give final approval.

However, the state’s law, Act 77, allowed no-excuse mail-in voting after passing the legislative body and being signed by Governor Tom Wolf.

According to Commonwealth Court President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, who wrote the opinion for the group, the provision must be passed through the constitutional amendment process.

“No-excuse mail-in voting makes the exercise of the franchise more convenient and has been used four times in the history of Pennsylvania. Approximately 1.38 million voters have expressed their interest in voting by mail permanently. 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,'” she wrote in the opinion.

Governor Wolf could immediately appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. If appealed, Democrats hold a majority on the highest court in the state.

As reported previously, Wolf has worked to keep the provision in place. He appointed Leigh Chapman to serve as acting secretary of the Commonwealth, replacing Veronica Degraffenreid who accepted a different position in the Wolf administration.

Chapman previously served as the executive director of Deliver My Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization “with a simple philosophy: vote at home programs increase turnout and participation from more informed voters.”

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]




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