The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a decision on January 28, 2022 finding that Pennsylvania’s no-excuse mail-in voting law is unconstitutional. Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives petitioned to block the mail-in voting law which was passed in 2019 ahead of the 2020 elections. That law allowed any qualified voter to submit a ballot by mail up to 50 days before and election. It also placed voters on a list to permanently received ballot applications by mail and extended mail in and absentee submission deadlines.
“No-excuse mail-in voting makes the exercise of the franchise more convenient and has been used four times in the history of Pennsylvania. Approximately 1.38 million voters have expressed their interest in voting by mail permanently.” - Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, who authored the ruling.
“If presented to the people, a constitutional amendment to end the Article VII, Section 1 requirement of in-person voting is likely to be adopted. But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people and adopted into our fundamental law before legislation authorizing no-excuse mail-in voting can ‘be placed upon our statute books.’” - Leavitt
Over 2.6 million Pennsylvanians voted via the mail in the 2020 general election. That number includes both no-excuse mail voting and absentee voting. Absentee voting in Pennsylvania is similar to mail voting and has existed for years, but voters need a valid excuse — like an illness or being out of the area on Election Day — to use it. Absentee voting is unaffected by Friday’s court ruling.
The state is expected to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, which turned back other challenges to the law in 2020. This is a developing story so stay tuned for additional updates.