Mail-In Voting Law Unconstitutional: Is PA Court right?

Matt Slocum / AP

Fact Box

  • On January 28, 2022, a lower Pennsylvanian Court announced the state’s two-year-old no-excuse mail-in voting law violated the state constitution. It was initially deemed as “unconstitutional” by 14 Republican members of the House of Representatives in August 2021. 
  • In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed a law changing Pennsylvania’s election law restricting absentee voters to allow “any voter to mail in a ballot for any reason.” The Court found the law unconstitutional as it changed Pennsylvania’s voting practices without going through the ratification process of amending Article VII, Section 1 of the commonwealth’s constitution.
  • Joe Biden won Pennsylvania with 3.5 million votes compared to Donald Trump’s 3.4 million votes, which flipped the state from Republican to Democrat in the 2020 presidential election. 
  • According to the US Census Bureau, the 2020 election had the “highest voter turnout of the 21st century” with 66.8% of the eligible population voting.

Siam (Yes)

Americans can vote either in person or via mail. But recently, a Pennsylvania (PA) court ruled the two-year-old mail-in voting system was unconstitutional, agreeing with the Congressional Republicans who had challenged the PA's expansive mail-in voting practice. While PA's law was passed through a bipartisan legislature, many other Democrat-run states have enacted similar laws that many argue could leave room for much fraud

In 2020, out of the 6.9 million votes cast, nearly 2.5 million Democrats in the state voted using the law's new expansion of mail-in voting. There is a higher risk that mail-in votes can be stolen, altered, destroyed, and forged. Recent indictments of several citizens in New Jersey reveal how they were able to gain the system for their own 2020 elections in that state. Mail-in ballots also have a higher rejection rate than in-person votes. Sometimes the signature may not match the one on file, or the individual may not comply with the technical rules of mail-in voting. These technical issues crop up because no election volunteer is able to help the voter know how to complete the mail-in ballot correctly. With in-person voting, election officials are there to remedy any issues one might have. 

Finally, there is also a problem with mail-in ballots not being delivered (on time or at all), misplaced, or thrown away. Since the postal service does not postmark the ballots, officials can't know when the ballots were mailed. Maryland and Wisconsin both reported these issues, as many mail-in voting ballots were received late. If a state wishes to undermine its election processes through shoddy methods like permanent mail-in voting and extended election periods, it must do so through the proper and legal means. 

Morgan (No)

The Republicans who voted for Act 77 back in 2019 are the same Republicans now claiming mail-in voting is 'unconstitutional' following Trump's attack of mail-in voting following the 2020 presidential election results. The Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro believes the Pennsylvania (PA) Supreme Court will find Act 77 constitutional, even though this lower Court did not. If the Attorney General believes it is constitutional, it's likely true. After all, mail-in voting gives more Americans access to voting. What's unconstitutional is the idea of making it more difficult for Americans to make their voices heard.

The biggest claim against mail-in voting is that it isn't secure, leaving more room for 'voter fraud.' However, if voting security is the issue, there are plenty of ways that voting is made more secure without eliminating access to those who can only get their ballots turned in through the mail. Every state has restrictions or verification steps to ensure a voter's legitimacy. Information such as 'name, address, date of birth and often a signature, driver's license number or the final four digits of the voter's social security number' are used to ensure a voter's eligibility and legitimacy, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures

Absentee voting (also known as mail-in voting) has been used since the Civil War, and it hasn't been an issue until politicians began convincing people it's less secure. Mail-in voting is just as secure and constitutional as regular voting, and it's a great way to make sure all US citizens have access to their constitutional right to vote.

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