Vanquished W. Pa. congressional hopeful, who’s part of of GOP ballot suit, praised mail-in voting earlier this year

By: - November 23, 2020 10:10 am

(Image via Pittsburgh City Paper)

By Ryan Deto

Former GOP congressional candidate Sean Parnell, one of eight Republicans suing the state over its mail-in balloting law, arguing that it’s unconstitutional, praised the law on Twitter in April, saying it put “in place” a system that “can safeguard public health & protect the voting process.”

“Use it!” Parnell, who lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District on Election Day, wrote of the state’s no-excuse balloting law.

Over the weekend, Parnell joined a Commonwealth Court lawsuit led by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, arguing that the 2019 law, which passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisna support, is an illegal attempt to override limitations on absentee voting, and needed to go through a constitutional amendment first.

If the court challenge, one of a battery filed by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and his allies, is sucessful, it would invalidate more than 2.6 million ballots. Thus far, Trump’s effort to overturn his loss to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has been dealt repeated defeats in courtrooms across the country.

Parnell’s tweet was an attempt to criticize Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who was calling for all voters to utilize mail-in voting during the primary election, which was held early in the pandemic at a time when COVID cases were high.

Parnell is known for his loud and combative online presence, but it’s unclear what point Parnell was trying to make against Fitzgerald. The county also shut down many voting precincts in the primary, so maybe Parnell was addressing that. Either way, he clearly indicated support for Pennsylvania mail-in voting back then, even if now he is joining a suit saying it’s unconstitutional.

Lamb campaign manager Abby Nassif-Murphy issued this statement in response to Parnell’s inclusion on the Republican lawsuit:

“Sean Parnell lost — decisively. He praised vote by mail in April, now wants millions of votes thrown out because he lost — decisively. He does what Trump tells him to do. His word means nothing, he believes in nothing, and this absurd lawsuit will amount to nothing. Because he lost — decisively, and he should start coming back to terms with that. He can embarrass himself with this nonsense as long as he wants, we honestly couldn’t care less.”

Ryan Deto is a reporter for Pittsburgh City Paper, where this story first appeared

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