Republicans challenge mail in voting in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

Several states are starting to see lawsuits related to mail in voting in advance of the midterm elections that are upcoming in November of 2022. Republicans have wanted to change rules related to mail in voting, mostly due to losing several crucial battleground states in 2020 by small margins. Estimates have shown that a much larger percentage of Democrats vote by mail compared to Republicans.  

Some states are already well into their disputes over mail in voting laws. Pennsylvania has already seen their law allowing mail in voting without a legitimate excuse struck down by one court. Wisconsin also has litigation related to the legality of drop boxes for absentee ballots going to the state’s supreme court. The outcome of the case in Pennsylvania could be especially important, as over two million votes were cast by mail in the 2020 presidential election in the state. Other states with larger amounts of Republican representation such as Georgia and Texas have already made changes to their voting laws through legislation. However, both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania both currently have Democratic governors, meaning that lawsuits were the only option for Republicans attempting to change state election law. The general sentiment regarding those two governors is that they would never want to change or eliminate mail in voting, or approve any bill that does so.

The recent history of mail in voting 

Much attention was brought to mail in voting after former President Trump attacked the practice immediately after losing in the 2020 election to Joe Biden. This sentiment has spread throughout the Republican party, as they believe allowing voting by mail may result in more losses for the party in the future. The coronavirus pandemic added to these tensions, as more people had voted by mail than ever before due to the fear of having large numbers of people waiting in line together to vote in person, and possibly transmitting the virus to each other. There were also conspiracy theories regarding mail in voting, and how it was possibly used illegitimately to help Democrats win in 2020. 

The Pennsylvania bill in question was passed in 2019, and it actually had some Republican support at the time. Some of the state legislators who had initially voted to pass the bill are now joined as plaintiffs to have it stricken down. The subject matter of the lawsuit challenging the voting law deals with whether the state constitution requires in person voting, unless the person has a very specific excuse to allow a vote by mail in their case. There is also the possibility that any long term changes to the state’s voting laws will need to be made through amending the Pennsylvania constitution. Republicans are hopeful that if the case is lost at the state level, the U.S. Supreme Court may grant certiorari and decide to hear the case.  


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