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GOP Lawmakers In Pennsylvania Go To Court To Challenge Mail-In Voting Law

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Fourteen Republican state lawmakers have filed a new lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's mail-in voting law, calling it unconstitutional and asking for it to be thrown out.

The legal challenge was filed just before midnight Tuesday in the state Commonwealth Court. It is the latest attempt by Republicans to invalidate the 2019 law that Republican lawmakers almost unanimously supported.

The central claim of the lawsuit is that the law — which allowed no-excuse voting by mail — is unconstitutional under a constitutional provision that requires lawmakers to provide a way for people to vote if they are unable to vote in person for specific reasons.

The lawsuit says the law allows people to vote by mail even if they do not qualify for one of the exemptions, which include being out of town on business, illness, physical disability, election day duties or a religious observance.

The Constitution does not explicitly say that the Legislature cannot extend absentee voting to others. Just over 2.5 million people voted under the law in 2020′s presidential election, most of them Democrats, out of 6.9 million total cast.

In a statement, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said the lawsuit is "not only the height of hypocrisy, but it also has real consequences and damages public trust in our elections."

Republicans soured on mail-in voting last year after then-President Donald Trump began baselessly attacking it as rife with fraud and, later, claiming without evidence that the election was stolen from him in critical battleground states including Pennsylvania.

In one lawsuit last year, Republicans used a similar argument to invalidate the mail-in voting law and throw out all ballots cast under it.

The state Supreme Court threw it out, saying the plaintiffs — including U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly and defeated congressional candidate Sean Parnell — "failed to act with due diligence" in waiting to challenge the law until after they saw Trump had lost the election.

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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