In an opinion piece sent to media outlets on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Fred Keller (R-12) explained why he will be objecting to the certification of Pennsylvania’s electors in a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

According to Keller, the reason for his objection is due to unconstitutional actions taken by Gov. Tom Wolf, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that exceeded and circumvented the state legislature’s clear constitutional authority to set election proceedings.

“These actions include, but are certainly not limited to, extending the deadline to receive absentee and mail-in ballots; dismissing signature authentication procedures for absentee and mail-in ballots; allowing for the uneven administration of the election across counties; and unilaterally changing Pennsylvania’s Election Code without the state legislature’s consent,” Keller wrote.

Keller, who was re-elected in the same November election that he will now object to, claims Pennsylvania leaders did not follow the law or constitution in the general election.

“Article II of the U.S. Constitution grants state legislatures — not the Governor acting alone and not the courts — the explicit power to determine the manner of appointing presidential electors,” Keller wrote. “However, during the 2020 election, Pennsylvania’s executive and judicial branches acted together to unilaterally change Pennsylvania’s election law and usurp the state legislature’s constitutional authority.”

The Pennsylvania Legislature passed election reform (Act 77, which allowed for no excuse mail-in voting) in 2019 with almost unanimous support from Republicans. The law passed 35-14 (27-0 among Republicans) in the Senate, and 138-61 (105-2 among Republicans) in the House.

Keller believes Wolf, Boockvar and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court changed the rules of Act 77 leading up to the November election.

“In September, the Democrat-majority Pennsylvania Supreme Court unilaterally extended the statutory deadline for absentee and mail-in ballots to be received by three days after Election Day. This order directly violated Pennsylvania law, which holds that all completed absentee and mail-in ballots be received by ‘no later than eight o’clock p.m. on the day of the primary or election.’ Litigation regarding this last-minute change is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court,” Keller wrote.

“In October, after Secretary Boockvar issued guidance that election officials would no longer reject a ballot based on a failure to verify the voter’s signature, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that election officials did not have to authenticate signatures for absentee and mail-in ballots. This new policy usurped the legislature’s authority and treated mail voters differently than in-person voters because election officials still had to match signatures of in-person voters at polling locations,” Keller continued.

“Then, two days before the November 3 election, Secretary Boockvar once again violated the state legislature’s authority by issuing new guidance extending the deadline for absentee and mail-in voters to provide missing proof of identification from November 9 to November 12. This directly violated Pennsylvania law, which states that voters must provide missing proof of identification and the county board of election must verify it ‘prior to the sixth calendar day following the election.’”

Keller, who called Pennsylvania’s general election as a “free-for-all,” noted that objecting to the certifications of electors has happened in the past.

“Contrary to what some have stated, this is not unprecedented. In fact, Democrats objected to electors in 2001, 2005, and 2017 — the last three times a Republican was elected president,” Keller wrote.

Keller stressed that even though he is a supporter of the president, this is not a partisan action on his part.

“While it is no secret that I campaigned and voted for President Trump, my decision to object is not based on support for any individual candidate. Rather, my objection is grounded in the Constitution and rule of law, which are fundamental to our democracy,” Keller said.

Editor’s Note: You can read Rep. Keller’s complete editorial here.

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or editor@morning-times.com. Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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