McLinko v. Pennsylvania – Act 77- Vote-by-Mail (PA)
In the Summer of 2021, Doug McLinko, a Bradford County election commissioner, and a group of Republican state lawmakers, filed lawsuits claiming Act 77—a vote-by-mail expansion law—is unconstitutional. Eleven of the state lawmakers challenging the bipartisan law originally voted for it.
Act 77 was passed in 2019 by the General Assembly with wide, bipartisan support. In addition to setting up a no-excuse mail-in voting system for any person in Pennsylvania, Act 77 gives Pennsylvania voters an additional two weeks to register to vote, allows them more time to return absentee ballots, and bars straight party ticket voting. Since its passage, more than five million Pennsylvania voters have used mail-in ballots, including in four primary and general elections in 2020 and 2021. Before the law was passed, only limited, with-excuse absentee voting had been available in the Commonwealth.
On January 28, 2022, the Commonwealth Court struck down the mail-in voting law. Governor Tom Wolf’s administration along with the Department of State and the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
On August 2, 2022, in a 5-2 decision the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned the Commonwealth Court’s decision, finding Act 77 constitutional.
The States United Democracy Center acted as pro bono counsel in this case along with Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller and Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP.
On January 9, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal of this case from a group of Republican state lawmakers.
- Jan. 28, 2022 – Commonwealth Court Opinion
- In the Pennsylvania Supreme Court:
- Feb. 15, 2022 – Appellant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al.’s Brief
- Feb. 24, 2022 – Emergency Application to Reinstate Automatic Supersedeas (Appellant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al.’s Application to Reinstate the Stay of the Commonwealth Court’s Decision)
- Feb. 25, 2022 – Joint Answer to Emergency Application to Reinstate Automatic Supersedeas
- Feb. 25, 2022 – Appellee Doug McLinko’s Brief
- Feb. 25, 2022 – Appellee Bonner at al.’s Brief
- March 1, 2022 – Order
- March 2, 2022 – Appellant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al.’s Reply Brief
- March 8, 2022 – Oral Argument before the Supreme Court
- August 2, 2022 – Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Opinion
- Additional fillings before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.