Defying all predictions of a photo finish senate race, Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman won 50.3% of the vote to Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz’s 47.3%. The unexpectedly large margin helped avoid a midterm meltdown. But don’t be deceived; that margin masks major electoral system dysfunction that remains unaddressed.
If the margins had been narrower, things might have looked very different. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last year vetoed a commonsense measure that would have modernized Pennsylvania’s Depression-era voting laws. As a result, the Commonwealth is saddled with a ponderous mail voting system bolted onto a rickety election code that forbids routine practices like voter ID and pre-processing mail ballots. Those policies secure elections and speed tabulations, but were vetoed by Wolf last year.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the 2019 law expanding the state’s mail-in voting was constitutional, overruling Republicans who argued no-excuse absentee voting should be outlawed.
Legislation currently in the works in the Pennsylvania General Assembly would spell out two rules for redistricting in the Keystone State: Elections cannot legally take place in outdated districts and courts can’t create new districts themselves.
In Feb. 2018, the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court not only struck down Pennsylvania’s congressional maps as unconstitutionally gerrymandered, it reimposed new maps created with no input from the legislature, something state law does not grant the court the right to do. The new maps strongly favored the Democrats’ electoral prospects.
Pennsylvania’s highest court on Wednesday overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction, allowing him to be immediately released from prison.