HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Fourteen Republican lawmakers have filed a new lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's mail-in voting law, calling it unconstitutional and asking for it to be thrown out.
The legal challenge was filed just before midnight Tuesday in the state Commonwealth Court. It is the latest attempt by Republicans to invalidate the 2019 law that Republican lawmakers almost unanimously supported.
The central claim of the lawsuit is that the law — which allowed no-excuse voting by mail — violates a constitutional provision that requires lawmakers to provide a way for people to vote if they are unable to vote in person for specific reasons.
Those reasons include being out of town on business, illness, physical disability, election day duties or a religious observance. But the lawsuit contends that the 2019 law violates that by allowing people to vote by mail even if they do not meet one of those categories.
The Constitution does not explicitly say that the Legislature cannot extend absentee voting to others. Just over 2.5 million people voted under the law in 2020's presidential election, most of them Democrats, out of 6.9 million total cast.
The 14 lawmakers are all members of the state House: Timothy Bonner of Mercer County; Mike Jones of York County; David Zimmerman of Lancaster County; Barry Jozwiak and David Maloney of Berks County; Kathy Rapp of Warren County; Barbara Gleim of Cumberland County; Bob Brooks of Westmoreland County; Aaron Bernstine of Lawrence County; Timothy Twardzik of Schuylkill County; Dawn Keefer of York County; Dan Moul of Adams County; Frank Ryan of Lebanon County; and Bud Cook of Washington County.
All of them voted for the legislation, except Zimmerman, who opposed it, and Bonner and Twardzik, who took office after the vote.
In a statement, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said the lawsuit is "not only the height of hypocrisy, but it also has real consequences and damages public trust in our elections.”
Republicans soured on mail-in voting last year after then-President Donald Trump began baselessly attacking it as rife with fraud and, later, claiming without evidence that the election was stolen from him in critical battleground states including Pennsylvania.
In one lawsuit last year, Republicans used a similar argument to invalidate the mail-in voting law and throw out all ballots cast under it.
The state Supreme Court threw it out, saying the plaintiffs — including U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly and defeated congressional candidate Sean Parnell — “failed to act with due diligence” in waiting to challenge the law until after they saw Trump had lost the election.
Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timelywriter.