GOP Group Files Pennsylvania Lawsuit to Invalidate State's Mail-in Ballots—All of Them

GOP Congressman Mike Kelly is leading a new lawsuit filed Saturday morning in Pennsylvania asking a state court to determine that the entire vote-by-mail system violates the state's constitution, and claims that certifying the election results—which shows President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes—should be prohibited.

The lawsuit is a challenge to Act 77, which was signed by Governor Tom Wolf last year and passed through a GOP-controlled legislature (the Associated Press reported that only two "no" votes were from Republican members). The legislation provided Pennsylvanians the option to vote by mail up to 50 days before an election without providing an excuse, as was previously required for voters using absentee ballots. It also eliminated straight-party ticket voting and moved voter registration dates closer to Election Day.

However, Kelly argued that the universal mail-in ballot provisions under Act 77 are "unconstitutional" and requested an injunction prohibiting the certification of the election results.

"Act 77 is the most expansive and fundamental change to the Pennsylvania voting code, implemented illegally, to date," the court filing read.

"As with prior historical attempts to illegally expand mail-in voting by statute, which have been struck down going as far back as the Military Absentee Ballot Act of 1839, Act 77 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."

The plaintiffs, which include Kelly and seven other Pennsylvania Republicans, argued that the attempt to override absentee voting limitations through the passing of Act 77 was illegitimate since it didn't go through a full constitutional amendment process. Thus, according to the lawsuit, the millions of mail-in ballots cast for the election are "illegal" and shouldn't be counted in the total.

"A proposed constitutional amendment must be approved by a majority vote of the members of both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions, then the proposed amendment must be published for three months ahead of the next general election in two newspapers in each county, and finally it must be submitted to the qualified electors as a ballot question in the next general election and approved by a majority of those voting on the amendment," the filing read.

Kelly argued that the more than 2.5 million mail-in ballots cast are invalid and that the state legislature should choose the winner of Pennsylvania's 20 Electoral College votes.

Trump supporters
Dozens of people calling for stopping the vote count in Pennsylvania due to alleged fraud against President Donald Trump gather on the steps of the State Capital on November 5 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Spencer Platt/Getty

The lawsuit stated: "Should the Commonwealth fail to make a choice for presidential and vice-presidential electors at the General Elections, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such manner as the Pennsylvania General Assembly may direct."

"Plaintiffs respectfully request [...] an order, declaration, and/or injunction that prohibits Defendants from certifying the results of the General Elections which include mail-in ballots which Defendants improperly permitted on a statewide basis; prohibits Defendants from certifying the results of the General Elections which include the tabulation of unauthorized votes, including mail-in ballots which did not meet the Constitutional requirements and, instead, compels Defendants to certify the results of the election based solely on the legal votes," the filing said.

"[O]r alternatively," the filing continued, "directs that the Pennsylvania General Assembly choose Pennsylvania's electors."

Kelly won his race for Pennsylvania's 16th congressional district against Democratic challenger Kristy Gnibus during this recent election. The congressman is one of the state's biggest boosters for President Donald Trump, who has not yet conceded the presidential election to Biden.

Sean Parnell, a Republican who is one of the plaintiffs on the lawsuit—and narrowly lost his congressional race against Democratic incumbent Conor Lamb by 10,000 votes in Pennsylvania's 17th district—previously tweeted his support of the state's mail-in voting process in April.

Voting IS a cornerstone of our republic.
That’s why we must protect the sanctity of the process. Your proposal undermines it.
Moreover, PA already has a bipartisan system in place for early & mail in voting that can safeguard public health & protect the voting process.
Use it!

— Sean Parnell (@SeanParnellUSA) April 14, 2020
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"Voting IS a cornerstone of our republic. That's why we must protect the sanctity of the process," Parnell wrote. "Moreover, PA already has a bipartisan system in place for early & mail in voting that can safeguard public health & protect the voting process. Use it!"

Newsweek reached out to Kelly's office Saturday afternoon for additional comment about the lawsuit.