By Jamie Wiggan
Editor’s note: Since printing, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the filing with the following since-sentence order: "The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied."
Two local Republican candidates who appear to have lost their races are holding out hope for a favorable U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a case challenging the constitutionality of mail-in voting across the state.
The suit, jointly filed by Sean Parnell and a handful of other Republicans including Butler County Congressman Mike Kelly, alleges the bipartisan majority of Pennsylvania lawmakers who voted last year to legalize mail-in voting should have first sought a constitutional amendment.
Filed in Commonwealth Court Nov. 21, the case won a favorable ruling there but was quickly overturned by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.
Now it rests in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which may decline to hear it.
“We think our chances are better than average for the type of application this is,” said Greg Teufel, lead attorney for the petitioners.
If the case were to prevail, questions would still remain over its implications for the 2020 election, with most states having already certified results and the Electoral College scheduled to convene Dec. 14.
Teufel said his priority is to get the courts to confirm their claims of unconstitutionality, and hopes state officials would then find a way to resolve the current election without disenfranchising the 2.2 million Pennsylvanians who cast mail-in ballots during the general election.
“We are trying to show the fact that the 2020 election was unconstitutional,” he said “…The relief is up to the legislature” and other state officials.
After taking an early lead in his bid to unseat Democrat Conor Lamb from Pennsylvania’s 17th U.S. Congressional District, first-time GOP challenger Sean Parnell ultimately came up several thousand ballots short when absentee ballots were tallied in subsequent days.
Parnell, who has not conceded, issued a press statement Dec. 1 elaborating his arguments.
“[The bill enabling mail-in voting] changes that constitutional standard and effectively establishes universal mail-in voting without going through the required and rigorous process of a constitutional amendment,” according to the statement.
Not a plaintiff on the lawsuit, Republican nominee for the state’s 45th House District Danny DeVito referenced the case in a Nov. 21 tweet stating, “Universal mail-in voting is unconstitutional. I refuse to concede the election!”
In a subsequent statement to Gazette 2.0, DeVito maintained he won’t concede the house race until all Pennsylvania’s election lawsuits are resolved, despite tailing incumbent Anita Kulik by 21-points after Allegheny County certified the results.
“Our position has not changed and we await the outcome of the lawsuits filed regarding both election fraud and the constitutionality of mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania."