HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A statewide court that declared that Pennsylvania's expansive 2-year-old mail-in voting law violates the state constitution followed that up Wednesday by saying its ruling can take effect in mid-March, a week after the state Supreme Court hears arguments on the appeal.
Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, in siding again with Republican officeholders who challenged the law, said they are likely to prevail at the state Supreme Court.
Leavitt also said that the appeal by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration assumes the higher court will overrule decisions in 1862 and 1924 invalidating laws passed to expand absentee voting, but that administration lawyers did not identify an error in those decisions.
The case is throwing 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.
The state Supreme Court scheduled the case for oral arguments on March 8. The Commonwealth Court's Jan. 28 decision to strike down the mail-in voting law can take effect March 15, under Leavitt's new ruling.
That timeline allows county boards of election to notify voters of any change in law with two months to go before the May 17 primary, Leavitt wrote. Counties would have to do it twice, were the Commonwealth Court's ruling to take effect immediately and then be overruled, Leavitt wrote.
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