Pennsylvania appeals court blocks further certification of election results pending hearing
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Pennsylvania appeals court blocks further certification of election results pending hearing

A judge for the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an injunction Wednesday to prevent the state from taking any further action to certify the results of the November 3 general election.

Judge Patricia McCullough issued the injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by Representative Mike Kelly (R-Butler) and state congressional candidate Sean Parnell, among other plaintiffs. Their lawsuit claims that Act 77, passed in 2019, is unconstitutional and therefore void. Act 77, a bipartisan bill, expanded no-excuse vote by mail in Pennsylvania. Their complaint alleges that the manner by which citizens can cast votes can only be changed by a constitutional amendment, not by a statute. They are asking the court to either prevent the state from certifying the election results if they include mail-in ballots, or directing the Pennsylvania General Assembly to choose the state’s electors.

In response lawyers for Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar called the complaint “breathtaking” but noted that not only did the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the suit, but also that it was not timely filed. Act 77 provided that a challenge to the Act should have been brought within 180 days of its passage. The defendants’ lawyers also called attention to the lateness of the lawsuit itself, pointing out that there have been two elections between Act 77’s passage and the plaintiffs’ complaint. Three of the plaintiffs, Kelly, Parnell, and Wanda Logan, were actually on the ballots for the June primary election and November general election, and “presumably garner[ed] votes cast on the same mail-in ballots that they now claim to be unconstitutional.”

Nonetheless, Judge McCullough issued the injunction preventing further certification of election results pending an evidentiary hearing scheduled for Friday. The defendants immediately filed an appeal of the injunction with the state supreme court, with state attorney general Josh Shapiro tweeting reassurance that the “order does not impact yesterday’s appointment of electors.”