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The state Supreme Court upheld its mail-in voting law.
The state Supreme Court upheld its mail-in voting law. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court upholds state’s expanded mail-in ballot law

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, the law was upheld by a 5-2 vote.

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It is now confirmed that Pennsylvanians will be able to cast mail-in ballots just like in 2020 for this upcoming November election as well as future ones, after a decision by the state’s Supreme Court to uphold an expanded law passed in 2019. The mail-in voting law was upheld by the court in a 5-2 decision, with the rejections from both Republican justices. The decision is a key one in the swing state.

The law, known as Act 77, which was utilized for the first time during the 2020 Presidential elections, allowed for wide expansion of mail-in voting in the state for the first time in decades. By upholding the law, the Democrat-majority also overturned a lower court ruling from this past January that found Act 77 to be in violation of the state’s constitution. 

The state law, which originally passed in 2019 with bipartisan support, although benefiting  more, became a focal point in Republican campaigns, especially those that still uphold unfounded election fraud claims from 2020. Despite displaying advocacy for it early on, it has since been the subject of attacks from former President Donald Trump and many of his GOP allies, who have switched their take on it. 

“We reiterate that our General Assembly is endowed with great legislative power, subject only to express restrictions in the constitution,” wrote Justice Christine Donohue in the majority opinion. 

In the decision made on Tuesday, the justices rejected the GOP’s reasoning that under the state constitution, the legislature did not have power to allow Pennsylvania voters to vote by mail without an excuse. This comes after a lower court sided with Republicans earlier in the year, and ruled the mail-in ballot expansion to be unconstitutional. It remained in place because of efforts from Governor Tom Wolf. 

Also in the majority opinion, Donohue wrote: “We find no restriction in our Constitution on the General Assembly’s ability to create universal mail-in voting.” 

In the time leading up to this decision, Republican lawmakers have gone after the mail-in method by expanding photo ID requirements as well as banning drop boxes. Following the 2020 Presidential Election, the aversion for the method grew among most Republicans. Pennsylvania Republican Gubernatorial candidate, State Senator Doug Mastriano even initially voted in favor of the law only to later want to repeal it. 

Post 2020 election, some even went as far as going with a lawsuit looking to invalidate all the mail-in ballots that had been casted in hopes of overturning Joe Biden’s presidential victory. 

The state Supreme Court ultimately threw out the case citing plaintiffs “failed to act with due diligence,” because of the GOP’s lack of initiative to challenge the law earlier and instead waited until Trump had already lost the election.

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