As you well know, election integrity and voting rights have been a topic of major discussion in our nation’s capital of late. But it’s not just in Washington DC where people are considering the ins and outs of current election laws.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, the existence of universal mail-in voting has been of much concern, with a recent Commonwealth Court filing made declaring the use of mail-in voting as unconstitutional in the state.
As with many states, universal mail-in voting was widely used in the state during the 2020 presidential election. In fact, according to WPMT, over one-third of all votes cast in Pennsylvania did so via mail.
The problem, of course, came after the election, when numerous discrepancies in voting numbers, registered voters, and so on began filing in. and so, the integrity of our elections and, therefore, the use of more mail-in ballots began to be questioned.
Now, the fact remains that mail-in ballots in and of themselves are not fraudulent. However, as they are seemingly sent from someone’s home and not seen in person being filled out by an election worker who can verify the voter’s ID, the possibility for fraud is increased greatly.
And so, their continued use in the state of Pennsylvania, at least without reason, is being questioned.
Democrats in the state, naturally, are all for their use. They say the reason is that universal mail-in voting was made legal, without explanation, back in 2019 and to go back on that now is simply ridiculous.
Now, to some extent, that is true.
Back in 2019, Republicans in Pennsylvania were trying to eliminate what is known as straight-ticket voting, which allows residents to choose a party at the beginning of their time at the polls, and the electronic software will automatically put a checkmark next to every candidate for that particular party in every category.
But to get such a bill passed, the GOP would need to concede something to make something of a compromise. What they ended up choosing were universal mail-in ballots.
And so Act 77 was agreed upon and passed, making straight-ticket voting illegal and universal mail-in ballots sent out everywhere. Democratic Governor Tom Wolf praised the move, saying that mail-in ballots used statewide would make their election “more safe, secure, and accessible” for all state residents.
But then came the elections of 2020, as I described earlier, bringing with it numerous allegations of fraud due to mail-in voting.
Republicans in the state, who never really liked the process to begin but agreed on it for the sake of being bipartisan, realized that a major mistake had been made. And one that needed to be corrected post haste.
And so they began the process of getting the Act repealed…
The reason for such was only made more evident by the fact that the state’s constitution specifically says that absentee or mail-in voters need to have a reason for casting a ballot in such a way.
And it is for this latter reason that the Commonwealth Court and its President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt made note that universal mail-in voting in the state as it stands right now is, in fact, illegal.
Per Article VII, Section 1 of the constitution, voting must be done in person at the polls unless an individual qualifies for absentee voting. This means that sending out ballots to each and every voter is unconstitutional.
Now, this doesn’t mean the law can’t be changed. As Leavitt points out, amendments can be made to the law, which voters in the state would have to approve of.
She wrote, “a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people and adopted into our fundamental law before legislation allowing no-excuse mail-in coting can be ‘place upon our statute books.’”
She also noted that should such an amendment be put before the state’s residents, it is likely to be approved. However, that hasn’t happened yet. And so, until then, mail-in voting, as it took place in 2020, will be banned.
The bad news for Democrats is that amending the state’s constitution is pretty much impossible to achieve before the 2022 midterms, in which a massive red wave is expected. In fact, it may not be easy to do even before the 2024 presidential election.