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Pennsylvania judge says plaintiffs have 'viable claim' that state mail-in ballot rule was illegal

Lawsuit has argued that the Pennsylvania legislature's rule change was unconstitutional.

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Mail-in ballots in Reading, PA
Mail-in ballots in Reading, PA
(MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty)
Updated: November 28, 2020 - 2:54pm

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A state judge in Pennsylvania is upholding her earlier injunction against the state's certification of the 2020 election results, stating that a lawsuit alleging the unconstitutionality of a state ballot rule is "likel[y] to succeed" on its own merits. 

In the ruling Friday nights , Judge Patricia McCullough stipulated that her earlier temporary injunction against the state's elecion certification process was valid and should be enforced.

The lawsuit on which McCullough made the initial injunction argued that the Pennsylvania legislature's Act 77, passed last year,  "contravene[d] the requirements of the Pennsylvania Constitution." That act, the petitioners claimed, constituted "an attempt by the legislature to fundamentally overhaul the Pennsylvania voting system and permit universal, no-excuse, mail-in voting absent any constitutional authority," as McCullough summarized the petitioners' argument in her Friday ruling. 

The petitioners, McCullough writes in the ruling, "appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits because Petitioners have asserted the Constitution does not provide a mechanism for the legislature to allow for expansion of absentee voting without a constitutional amendment." 

The Pennsylvania Department of State's office on Tuesday announced that it had certified the presidential and vice presidential election results in Pennsylvania, though McCullough in her ruling noted that there were numerous steps to be taken to officially finalize that certification in state records. 

"[T]he emergency preliminary injunction was properly issued," the ruling states, "and should be upheld pending an expedited emergency evidentiary hearing."