HARRISBURG – Representative Paul Schemel and Senator Judy Ward have joined more than two dozen lawmakers in filing an amicus brief asking the US Supreme Court to hear a case filed by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly relating to mail-in ballots and the state court’s “extra-constitutional” intervention into state election law.
Act 77 of 2019 was approved by a bipartisan majority of lawmakers last year. The bill was intended to strike an appropriate balance between expanding voting opportunities and ensuring only legal votes were cast. However, many of the law’s critical ballot security measures were removed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Department of State in the days and weeks leading up to the November 2020 election.
The amicus brief is intended to educate judges on potentially relevant facts from the legislators who passed the statute and best understood its intent. Schemel and Ward issued the following statement today regarding the brief:
“We supported passage of Act 77 because we believed every Pennsylvanian should have more opportunities to participate in our democratic process. The legislation was carefully drafted to protect the integrity of our elections and included specific provisions relating to deadlines and signature verification. Act 77 was the product of years of work and received support from Republicans, Democrats and the governor.
“In the three months leading up to the November election, the state supreme court took it upon itself to overrule the will of the legislature and governor by changing deadlines and eliminating provisions requiring signature verification, thereby applying much looser standards to mail-in ballots than are applied to ballots cast in person. When challenged in court by Congressman Mike Kelly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the case on a questionably applied technicality without even hearing the merits of the case. If we do nothing we only embolden the state supreme court to continue creating its own law, something which it is not constitutionally authorized to do.
“Pennsylvanians deserve to have free and fair elections, and it is our responsibility to ensure we provide a fair and honest voting system to our constituents. We hope that the US Supreme Court reviews the merits of Congressman Kelly’s case, something which the state supreme court declined to do.”