Pennsylvania Court Officially Rules Act 77 of 2019 Unconstitutional

( Last Friday, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania struck down a state law that allowed for no-excuse vote by mail, ruling that the law was unconstitutional. However, the Democrat-led state immediately appealed the ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, putting on hold the lower court’s decision and leaving in place the no-excuse mail-in voting until the state’s high court rules.

Republicans had challenged Act 77, arguing the state’s constitution required in-person voting unless a person had a specific excuse to vote by mail, such as a disability or being away from home on election day.

The three Republicans on the court agreed while the two Democrat judges dissented.

Act 77, which was implemented in 2019 with bipartisan support, eliminated such requirements for mail-in voting. During the 2020 election, Democrats exploited the act to help Joe Biden gain nearly 80,000 more votes than Donald Trump.

In the ruling, Commonwealth Court President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt wrote that while she believed Pennsylvania voters would support eliminating the in-person voting requirement in the constitution, it could only be done by a constitutional amendment and not by a vote from the legislature.

Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s Democrat attorney general said on Friday that he is confident the majority Democrat Pennsylvania Supreme Court would overturn the lower court’s ruling. He said in a statement that there would be no “immediate impact” on the upcoming elections in Pennsylvania.

Act 77 was the outcome of a deal struck by Republican and Democrat lawmakers that expanded access to mail-in ballots in exchange for eliminating straight-party voting. Republicans had long sought to scrap straight-party voting because it was seen as advantageous to Democrats.

Democrats, while happy to have no-excuse mail-in voting, complained that the 2020 down-ballot losses, despite Biden’s victory, were the result of losing the straight-party option.

In the 2020 election, over 2.6 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail. About three-quarters of those mail-in ballots went to Joe Biden.