DNC, Pennsylvania Democrats Take Legal Action to Defend Pennsylvanians’ Freedom to Vote

The DNC and PDP filed to intervene in defense of Pennsylvania law allowing all eligible voters to vote by mail

Today, the Democratic National Committee and Pennsylvania Democratic Party are taking action to intervene in litigation brought by 14 Pennsylvania Republican state legislators and a county election official, who claim that allowing all eligible Pennsylvanians to vote by mail without an excuse is impermissible under the Pennsylvania constitution — even though nearly all of them supported the law when it was enacted in 2019 with bipartisan support. 

Issues like this one are of deep, direct, and urgent concern to President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala D. Harris, who have asked the Democratic National Committee to prioritize them.

Pennsylvania law allows all eligible voters to vote by mail without an excuse, just like 33 other states and the District of Columbia. In 2020, more than 2.6 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail. Eliminating the excuse requirement to vote by mail increases participation in our elections, including for working families and minority communities. 

“The DNC is taking action to ensure that all eligible Pennsylvania voters are given an equal opportunity to participate in our elections, and we stand ready to step in to defend the freedom to vote wherever partisan lawsuits are brought to attack voters’ ability to cast a ballot,” said DNC Chair Jaime Harrison. 

“It is more important than ever that we keep up the fight for stronger participation in our democracy, and we are proud to stand with our partners to defend the voices of everyday Pennsylvanians,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills.

Additional Background on the DNC’s and PDP’s Legal Action:

In 2019, Governor Wolf signed Act 77 into law, a bipartisan compromise to modernize elections in the Commonwealth. Act 77 allows all Pennsylvanians to vote by mail, updates the Commonwealth’s voter registration law, and eliminates straight ticket voting. As Senate President Jake Corman said when the law was signed: “Compromise has given Pennsylvanians a modernized election code that preserves the integrity of the ballot box[,] and makes it easier for voters to choose the people who represent them.” Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler sounded a similar note: “This bill was not written to benefit one party or the other, or any one candidate or single election. It was developed over a multi-year period with input of people from different backgrounds and regions in Pennsylvania. It serves to preserve the integrity of every election and lift the voice of every voter.”

Act 77’s promise has been realized. In 2020, 76.5% of eligible voters in Pennsylvania cast a ballot, the highest turnout in 30 years. More than 2.6 million people voted by mail, and the election was the most secure in American history. 

Last month, however, 14 Republican state legislators and a county election official filed suit, claiming that allowing all eligible Pennsylvanians to vote by mail is unconstitutional — even though nearly all of them supported the law when it was enacted. According to these plaintiffs, eligibility to vote by mail in Pennsylvania must be strictly limited to those who are traveling on Election Day, are disabled, or have a religious objection. They contend that the Pennsylvania constitution mandates these limits. But, the Pennsylvania constitution has not changed since Act 77 was enacted. Instead, the losing presidential candidate in 2020 chose to baselessly attack the integrity of the election by disparaging vote by mail. This litigation is an extension of that attack, and the DNC and the PDP seek to intervene to protect Pennsylvania voters.