PA judge halts election certification for hearing on mail-in ballots

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia A. McCullough entered a preliminary order Wednesday granting an evidentiary hearing on a lawsuit brought by Republican Congress member Mike Kelly, candidates Sean Parnell and Wanda Logan and five additional voters, who say Pennsylvania’s October 2019 expansion of “no-excuse” mail-in voting violated the state constitution’s limits on who can cast an absentee ballot. Judge McCullough’s order said the state, which certified its election results for President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday, should halt any further steps toward finalizing the results or revising its vote count.

“To the extent that there remains any further action to perfect the certification of the results of the 2020 general election … for the offices of president and vice president of the United States of America, respondents are preliminarily enjoined from doing so, pending an evidentiary hearing to be held on Friday, November 27, 2020,” the judge’s order said. “Inasmuch as respondents, based on their press release and briefs, have not undertaken certification of any of the other results of the election, respondents are preliminarily enjoined from certifying the remaining results of the election, pending the evidentiary hearing.”

Attorneys for the state and the Republican-majority legislature that had passed the expanded voting bill argued in briefs that the challengers’ requested relief of halting certification was too late, but the challengers filed a supplemental application for emergency relief late Tuesday night that laid out other steps in formalizing the election that the court could stop, up to and including an injunction stopping electors from meeting in Harrisburg in December.