Court tosses Republican Pennsylvania lawmakers’ challenge of state, federal voter access actions

Mar 26, 2024, 2:01 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — An attempt by conservative Pennsylvania lawmakers to overturn a shift to automatic voter registration was dismissed by a federal court on Tuesday, along with their other challenges to actions designed to boost voter registration.

The lawsuit, filed by 24 Republican state lawmakers in January, challenged the legality of a 2021 executive order by U.S. President Joe Biden that ordered federal agencies to consider ways to expand voter access.

It also took aim at two Pennsylvania-level orders: Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s introduction of automatic voter registration last fall, and a 2018 state directive under then-Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that said counties cannot reject a voter registration application solely on the basis of finding that the applicant submitted a driver’s license number or Social Security digits that don’t match what is in a government agency database.

The lawmakers argued that the three actions to bolster voters required legislative approval, and never received it.

Messages seeking comment were left with attorneys for the lawmakers.

In her decision, Pennsylvania U.S. District Judge Jennifer Wilson wrote that the lawmakers did not have legal standing in their filing.

“A vague, generalized allegation that elections, generally, will be undermined, is not the type of case or controversy that this court may rule on under” the Constitution, she wrote.

In a statement, Shapiro called the lawsuit frivolous.

“Automatic voter registration is safe, secure, efficient, and entirely within my Administration’s authority,” he said.

The lawsuit highlighted continued efforts to litigate voting and election rules, particularly in a battleground swing state critical to the 2024 presidential contest.

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Court tosses Republican Pennsylvania lawmakers’ challenge of state, federal voter access actions