PA Judge Makes Major Decision That Halts Vote Certification


A Pennsylvania judge has ordered the state to temporarily stop any actions to certify its 2020 election results until Friday when the appellate court holds a hearing on a lawsuit seeking to void millions of potentially unconstitutional mail-in ballots.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough entered a preliminary order Wednesday granting an evidentiary hearing on a lawsuit that claims Pennsylvania’s October 2019 expansion of “no-excuse” mail-in voting “violated the state constitution’s limits on who can cast an absentee ballot,” Law360 reported.

The order said Pennsylvania should stop any further steps toward finalizing the election results until the hearing is held.

“To the extent that there remains any further action to perfect the certification of the results of the 2020 General Election (the “Election”) for the offices of President and Vice President of the United States of America, Respondents are preliminarily enjoined from doing so, pending an evidentiary hearing to be held on Friday,” the order read.

“Inasmuch as Respondents, based on their Press Release and briefs, have not undertaken certification of any of the other results of the Election, Respondents are preliminarily enjoined from certifying the remaining results of the Election.”

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The lawsuit was filed by a group of Pennsylvania Republicans, led by Rep. Mike Kelly and 2020 congressional candidate Sean Parnell, and seeks to toss out the major voting reform bill that was passed last year, according to Business Insider.

Attorneys for the state that passed the expanded voting bill argued the request to halt the certification of election results had come too late. However, the challengers filed a supplemental application for emergency relief Tuesday night with alternative steps the court could take to help stop the certification, Law360 reported.

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“Should it be absolutely necessary, in order for this court to be empowered to provide adequate relief, petitioners may seek for leave from this court to join the slate of presidential and vice presidential electors as additional respondents in this action, and move to enjoin them from taking certain action,” the petition said.

“Because the electors, by law, must perform their duties at the ‘seat of government of this Commonwealth,’ this court may also enjoin respondents from permitting the electors to assemble at such location.”

According to Pennsylvania law, any voter can choose to vote by mail. However, to qualify for an absentee ballot, Pennsylvania voters must provide a valid reason to request such a ballot.

Voters who qualify for an absentee ballot include college students, people whose work takes them away from the Municipality where they live, people with physical disability or illness, members of the military and people who may have a conflict due to a religious holiday.

Act 77, which was signed into law in October 2019, created no excuse mail-in voting for all Pennsylvania voters and a 50-day period for voters to request and submit these ballots.

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According to the lawsuit, these ballots should be deemed “unconstitutional” because it overrides legal limitations on absentee voting.

“Act 77 is the most expansive and fundamental change to the Pennsylvania voting code, implemented illegally, to date,” the plaintiffs wrote.

“[It] is another illegal attempt to override the limitations on absentee voting prescribed in the Pennsylvania Constitution, without first following the necessary procedure to amend the constitution to allow for the expansion.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith