Mike Kelly

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rejects GOP Suit Over Mail Ballots

The week-old suit was brought by state legislator Mike Kelly, a Republican, who claimed the state's mail-in voting laws were unconstitutional.

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Pennsylvania's highest court on Saturday night threw out a lower court's order preventing the state from certifying dozens of contests on its Nov. 3 election ballot in the latest lawsuit filed by Republicans attempting to thwart President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the battleground state.

The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, threw out the three-day-old order, saying the underlying lawsuit was filed months after the law allowed for challenges to Pennsylvania's expansive year-old mail-in voting law.

The state's attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the court's decision “another win for Democracy.”

The week-old lawsuit, led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania, had challenged the state's mail-in voting law as unconstitutional.

As a remedy, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law — most of them by Democrats — or to wipe out the election results and direct the state's Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania's presidential electors.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, elected as a Republican in 2009, had issued the order Wednesday to halt certification of any remaining contests, including apparently contests for Congress.

A day earlier, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said he had certified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016.

Wolf had appealed McCullough's decision to the state Supreme Court, saying there was no “conceivable justification” for it.

Other election lawsuits focused on signatures, a three-day grace period for mail ballots to arrive after election day, and keeping Republican observers closer to the counting process. In Philadelphia, the parties were granted more observers and allowed to stand closer following complaints of the distance between watchers and counters.

Many other states were allowed to count mailed ballots before Election Day, but Pennsylvania was not. Early returns on election night thus featured more in-person votes, which skewed toward Trump. As county election boards caught up with their mail ballots (which leaned Democrat), Trump's "lead" ebbed away to Biden.

The Keystone State certified its results on Nov. 24, with final numbers showing Biden beating Trump by about 81,000 votes.

David Thornburgh, president and CEO of the political watchdog group Committee of 70, said considering the limitations and pressured placed on counting a record-number of mail-in votes in Pennsylvania for the 2020 election, that everything went "pretty well." He criticized state lawmakers who did not allow for the ballots to be readied for counting until the morning of Election Day.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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