Pennsylvania court strikes down expansive mail-in voting law

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A statewide court on Friday declared that Pennsylvania’s expansive two-year-old mail-in voting law is unconstitutional, agreeing with challenges by Republicans who soured on mail-in voting after then-President Donald Trump began baselessly attacking it as rife with fraud in 2020’s campaign.

The decision, by a five-judge Commonwealth Court panel of three Republicans and two Democrats, could be put on hold immediately by an appeal from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to the state Supreme Court.

Still, the decision throws the state’s voting laws into doubt as voters prepare to elect a new governor and a new U.S. senator in 2022.

The three Republican judges agreed with Republican challengers, saying that no-excuse mail-in voting is prohibited under the state constitution and the constitution must be changed to allow it.

The two Democrats on the panel dissented. The state Supreme Court has a 5-2 Democratic majority.

In 2019, the Republican-controlled Legislature authorized no-excuse mail-in voting for all voters, expanding upon a provision in the state constitution that required the state to provide the option for people to vote if they are unable to vote in person for specific reasons.

Just over 2.5 million people voted under the law in 2020′s presidential election, most of them Democrats, out of 6.9 million total cast.

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