A group of Pennsylvania lawmakers late Wednesday lodged a legal challenge to a voting law that some of them helped pass in 2019, arguing it has been applied in a way that violates the Commonwealth’s Constitution.

Fourteen Pennsylvania GOP representatives are asking the Commonwealth Court to declare provisions that enable voting by mail without excuse unconstitutional and block state officials from distributing, collecting, or counting no-excuse mail-in ballots in future elections.

The Republican-controlled legislature in 2019 passed Act 77, which dramatically changed Pennsylvania Election Code, including letting anybody vote by mail.

But the petition argues that expansion of voting by mail cannot be done legally without a constitutional amendment.

“Because the legislative changes enabling no-excuse mail voting in Pennsylvania require a constitutional amendment, and because the Pennsylvania Constitution has delegated to its citizens the right to vote on amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution, Act 77 violates the U.S. Constitution’s delegation to states of the lawmaking power for federal elections,” the challenge states.

Some 2.6 million Pennsylvania voters used mail-in voting in the 2020 election, with another 4.2 million voting in person.

Eleven of the representatives who lodged the petition voted for the bill in question. One was not in office at the time. The other, state Rep. David Zimmerman, voted against the act.

State Rep. Dawn Keefer, one of those who voted for the bill, told The Epoch Times in an email that the legal action was prompted by Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings.

“The bill that was before the House was not what was implemented due to egregious rulings by the state Supreme Court and changes made by the administration. It was a bad vote and I apologized to my constituents for it,” she said.

“The language we vetted in committee was altered enormously once it hit the floor for a full vote. The pace at which the bill moved allowed only time to skim the bill and read summaries. We had to rely on our leadership and staff at the time for a bill analysis and, frankly, we were misinformed,” she added.

The Pennsylvania Department of State, named as the defendant, declined to comment.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, reacted to the petition on Thursday.

“This lawsuit is not only the height of hypocrisy but it also has real consequences and damages public trust in our elections,” he said in a Facebook post.

Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.

September 2, 2021 7:35 pm

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