Pennsylvania judge halts election certification amid mail-in vote fight

Lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania's mail-in voting law violated the state's constitution

A Pennsylvania state court issued an injunction Wednesday blocking any potential further certification of election results in the state, pending a hearing to be held Friday.

The order from Judge Patricia McCullough comes in the case brought by Pennsylvania voters including Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., in which they allege that a state law allowing for no-excuse absentee voting violated the Pennsylvania constitution, which outlines specific cases where absentee voting is allowed.

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“[T]o the extent that there remains any further action to perfect the certification of the results of the 2020 General Election … for the office of President and Vice President of the United States of America, Respondents are preliminarily enjoined from doing so, pending an evidentiary hearing[,]’” McCullough wrote.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro quickly responded on Twitter, pointing out that this does not have much impact since the results of the presidential election have already been certified and electors chosen.

Still, Pennsylvania officials swiftly filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court, asking for a review of whether McCullough erred in granting injunctive relief despite Kelly and the other voters showing a "failure to satisfy any of the prerequisites" that warranted injunctive relief.

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As for any other races in November’s elections that may not have been certified, state officials are temporarily barred from certifying the results of any election that has not already been certified.

An evidentiary hearing will be held Friday.

The complaint in the case centers on Act 77, which the plaintiffs called "the most expansive and fundamental change to the Pennsylvania election code to date." That law expanded mail-in voting, even though Article VII, Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which covers absentee voting, is very narrow in its scope of who can participate.

That law says that the state legislature shall provide a manner of voting for people who will be outside of their municipality "because their duties, occupation or business require them to be elsewhere or who, on the occurrence of any election, are unable to attend at their proper polling places because of illness or physical disability or who will not attend a polling place because of the observance of a religious holiday or who cannot vote because of election day duties, in the case of a county employee, may vote, and for the return and canvass of their votes in the election district in which they respectively reside."

The lawsuit claims that Pennsylvania's mail-in votes are invalid because in order to expand absentee voting, a constitutional amendment is required, not simply the passing of a bill.

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While the presidential election results in Pennsylvania have already been certified, the Trump campaign is still actively fighting them, hoping for decertification as they appeal the dismissal of a case they brought alleging that voters were improperly granted the ability to cure invalid absentee votes, and in which they alleged that more than 680,000 ballots were counted without proper observation.