A bid by President Joe Biden, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, and the commonwealth’s leading election officials to unilaterally change election procedures without legislative approval violates the U.S. Constitution and state law, a new lawsuit says.
Filed on Thursday by several Pennsylvania legislators in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the suit alleges that the aforementioned entities violated America’s founding document and state law by excluding the Keystone State’s legislature from the “law-making process regulating federal elections for President and Congress.” Al Schmidt and Jonathan Marks, Pennsylvania’s secretary of the commonwealth and deputy secretary for elections and commissions, respectively, are also named defendants in the suit.
Plaintiffs specifically took issue with Executive Order 14019, a directive signed by Biden in March 2021 mandating hundreds of federal departments interfere in the electoral process by using U.S. taxpayer money to boost voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities. That order also required the heads of federal departments to draft “a strategic plan” explaining how their agencies intended to fulfill Biden’s directive.
While the Biden administration has routinely stonewalled efforts by good government groups to acquire these plans by slow-walking its response to federal court orders and heavily redacting any related documents that are released, available information indicates a partisan venture aimed at registering likely-Democrat voters. As The Daily Signal’s Fred Lucas reported, for example, many of the supposedly “nonpartisan” third-party organizations that agencies are required to collaborate with to register voters are extremely left-wing, including the ACLU and Demos.
In their lawsuit, plaintiffs argued that Biden’s executive order violates provisions of Pennsylvania law prohibiting the “influence of third party entities in elections,” and that it is state legislatures — not the president — which are tasked with regulating elections.
“President Biden does not have the unilateral power to oversee and participate in making legislative decisions regarding the time, place, and manner of Presidential and Congressional elections, including the registration of electors in Pennsylvania,” the suit reads. Nor does the president “have the power to usurp the authority of Pennsylvania legislators with regard to the registration of Pennsylvania voters, as Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution clearly places the duty of ‘regulating the registration of electors’ on the General Assembly.”
As for Shapiro, plaintiffs claimed that the Democrat governor’s unilateral implementation of automatic voter registration last year is “not legally authorized by any state law” and that he “does not have the power to legislate or to make law, to abrogate law, or even to interpret law.” Election experts previously told The Federalist that Shapiro’s directive is “inconsistent” with commonwealth law.
“Governor Shapiro does not have the unilateral power to oversee and participate in making legislative decisions regarding the times, places, and manner of Presidential and Congressional elections, including the registration of electors in Pennsylvania,” the lawsuit reads.
Finally, plaintiffs argued that the Pennsylvania Department of State has issued several election-related directives — including 2018 guidance instructing counties to “register applicants [to vote] even if an applicant provides invalid identification” — that contradict state law. Pennsylvania law requires new voters to present a form of identification in order to register to vote, although recurring voters are not required to present an ID.
“The citizens of Pennsylvania have been victimized by extraordinary overreach of executive officials who have made changes to election laws with no authority to do so,” lead plaintiff and Republican Rep. Dawn Keefer said in a statement. “If we don’t take action to stop this, there is no limit to the changes they might make to further erode Pennsylvania’s election system in 2024 and beyond.”
Plaintiffs have asked the court to issue declaratory judgements deeming the actions of Biden, Shapiro, and the Pennsylvania State Department unconstitutional and injunctions barring these entities from “funding, supporting, or facilitating” the edicts in question. They also requested the court enjoin defendants from further changing Pennsylvania’s elections system without following the proper legislative process.