PA Commonwealth Court Strikes Down No-Excuse Mail-In Ballot Law

On Friday morning, the en banc Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court struck down Act 77, Pennsylvania's no-excuse mail voting law. RNLA Chair Harmeet Dhillon was part of the legal team representing one of the lead plaintiffs, Bradford County election official Doug McLinko.

The plaintiffs' key point, which was ultimately upheld by the court, is that the Pennsylvania General Assembly circumvented the state constitution when it enacted no-excuse absentee voting for all electors. The proper way to do so would have been to amend the state constitution, which requires the approval of Pennsylvania voters.

The Philadelphia Enquirer reported:

The court notably did not rule against the merits of mail voting and its expansion — it focused instead on how that expansion occurred, saying the Constitution must first be amended to allow it.

“No-excuse mail-in voting makes the exercise of the franchise more convenient and has been used four times in the history of Pennsylvania,” Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt wrote for the court. “Approximately 1.38 million voters have expressed their interest in voting by mail permanently. If presented to the people, a constitutional amendment … is likely to be adopted. But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people” before legislation like Act 77 can take effect.

The Commonwealth Court should be applauded for upholding the rule of law in Pennsylvania.