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Congressman Kelly, Sean Parnell file lawsuit to get mail-in ballots thrown out of election results

PITTSBURGH — Butler County congressman Mike Kelly, Sean Parnell and several other Republicans have filed a lawsuit asking the state to throw out mail-in ballots from the Nov. 3 election results.

According to the lawsuit, the universal mail-in ballot provisions of Act 77 “are unconstitutional” and an injunction needs to be issued “prohibiting certification” of the election results in Pennsylvania. The suit says Act 77 was “implemented illegally” and called the law “another illegal attempt to override the limitations on absentee voting” outlined in the state constitution.

The suit says the law is not valid because it did not go through the proper avenues to amend the state’s constitution. According to the Pennsylvania Constitution, an amendment has to be approved by a majority of the members of both the House and the Senate. The amendment is then put to the voters as a ballot question. If it passes by a majority of the voters, then the amendment becomes valid. The lawsuit claims this did not happen.

Act 77 was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2019. It allows any eligible voter in the state to vote by mail without having to provide an excuse. Voters can request a mail-in ballot for all primary, general and special elections. The law took effect in April of this year, just before the June primary.

The lawsuit names the state of Pennsylvania, Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar as plaintiffs. Channel 11 has reached out to them, along with Rep. Conor Lamb, for comment.

Sean Parnell’s campaign sent Channel a statement:

“Sean Parnell has filed this lawsuit to demand that our future elections and the 2020 election are conducted in a manner prescribed by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. That did not happen in 2020 and it is imperative for the court to intervene and prescribe a remedy that will cure the unconstitutional nature of the 2020 election, without disenfranchising those that mailed in their votes based on the unconstitutional law.

“Specifically, Article VII of that Constitution sets out how elections are to be conducted in our state, and it details the time, place, and manner for how votes are to be cast. Included in Article VII, Section 14 are the requirements for what constitutes a legal absentee vote.

“Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Legislature disregarded Article VII, Section 14 when it created universal mail-in voting by passing Act. 77, which was then signed by Governor Wolf. This was not only an unconstitutional act by the legislature and the governor in creating a whole new time, place, and manner for voting, but it also created an unfair expectation among those casting votes pursuant to the new universal mail-in ballot law that they would be exercising their right to vote in a Constitutional manner.

“Sean Parnell has spent his life serving this great country and protecting its institutions and values, which include the fundamental right to constitutionally authorized elections to choose our federal and state representatives and officers. Changing the results of the election is not the goal of this lawsuit; rather, it is to ensure that this election and any future election be conducted in accordance with the Pennsylvania Constitution and is not subject to the whims of political operators in Harrisburg more concerned with the power of politicians than the power of the people.”

Gov. Wolf also sent Channel 11 a statement:

“In a year of crass and partisan litigation, this lawsuit sets a new low bar. To be clear, Congressman Kelly is seeking to disenfranchise the nearly 2.7 million Pennsylvania voters who voted by mail-in ballot in the general election, including over 100,000 of his own constituents. The legislation that the Congressman’s lawsuit attacks was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote in 2019. His effort to undermine it now an extraordinary partisan attack, and should be condemned by anyone who cares about the legitimacy of our democracy.

“Pennsylvania had a free, fair, and secure election. Millions of Pennsylvanians followed the rules allowed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of the United States, and each voter, regardless of political party, must have their voice heard. These attacks against the core values of Americans are intended to undermine our democracy, and we must reject them.

“Pennsylvania is going to fight every single attempt to disenfranchise voters. We will protect this election and the democratic process. Pennsylvania will count every vote, and we will protect the count of every vote.”