HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A statewide court declared Friday that Pennsylvania’s expansive two-year-old mail-in voting law is unconstitutional, agreeing with challenges by Republicans who soured on mail-in voting after then-President Donald Trump began baselessly attacking it as rife with fraud in 2020′s campaign.
The decision, by a five-judge Commonwealth Court panel of three Republicans and two Democrats, could be put on hold immediately by an appeal from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to the state Supreme Court.
Still, the decision throws Pennsylvania’s voting laws into doubt as the presidential battleground state’s voters prepare to elect a new governor and a new U.S. senator in 2022.
Just over 2.5 million people voted under the law’s expansion of mail-in voting in 2020′s presidential election, most of them Democrats, out of 6.9 million total cast.
Wolf’s office had no immediate comment Friday.
Trump quickly lauded the decision.
“Big news out of Pennsylvania, great patriotic spirit is developing at a level that nobody thought possible. Make America Great Again!” he said in a statement through his political action committee.
The three Republican judges agreed with Republican challengers — including 11 Republican lawmakers who actually voted for the law — and ruled that no-excuse mail-in voting is prohibited under the state constitution, until the constitution is changed to allow it.
The two Democrats on the panel dissented. The state Supreme Court — where an appeal was expected shortly — has a 5-2 Democratic majority.
Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, said in a statement the opinion will be immediately appealed and will not have any immediate impact on Pennsylvania’s upcoming elections.
Shapiro, a Democrat who is running for governor, said he is confident the state Supreme Court will uphold the mail-in voting law as constitutional, and criticized the lower court’s opinion as “based on twisted logic and faulty reasoning, and is wrong on the law.”
By Marc Levy