Pennsylvania Officials, DNC Ask Federal Judge to Dismiss Trump Lawsuit

Pennsylvania Officials, DNC Ask Federal Judge to Dismiss Trump Lawsuit
Allegheny County election employees organize ballots at the elections warehouse in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 7, 2020. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

Officials in the election battleground state of Pennsylvania and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) asked a federal judge on Thursday to dismiss the Trump campaign’s lawsuit that seeks to block the state from certifying results of the 2020 General Election.

According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, lawyers for the Pennsylvania secretary of state and seven of the state’s counties said the case made vague and unsupported allegations “on the basis of repeatedly-rejected legal theories and no evidence.”

“This Court should see this lawsuit for what it is: a transparent and premeditated attack on our electoral system that broadly seeks to disenfranchise all Pennsylvania voters who legally cast ballots in this election,” four of the counties said in a court filing.

Pennsylvania officials said they “administered a proper, fair, and secure election” and would vigorously defend the case.

The DNC in arguments (pdf) filed to the court also argued that the Trump campaign had “brought this lawsuit too late” and accused the campaign of seeking to “overturn the election.”

“The Court should dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims under Rule 12(b)(1) because they lack standing to assert a generalized grievance common to all Pennsylvania voters,” DNC counsel Clifford Levine wrote in the motion to dismiss.

“Even if the Court concludes Plaintiffs have standing, the Court should abstain from adjudicating their claims, which—though labeled as federal causes of action—are in reality issues of state law currently pending before Pennsylvania courts.”

Pennsylvania is due to certify the election results on Nov. 23.

The lawsuit from the Trump campaign (pdf) filed on Nov. 9 sought for an injunction to block Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and seven county boards of election—Allegheny, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Northampton—from certifying the results of the General Election, alleging that “almost every critical aspect” of the state’s election was “effectively shrouded in secrecy.”

In the suit, the Trump campaign alleged that the Pennsylvania election process violated the Constitution due to its different standards of verification and transparency for mail-in versus in-person voters, as well as its disparate treatment of Republican and Democrat voters and poll watchers, which effectively created a two-track system of voting.

The campaign said that “nearly 2.65 million votes were cast through a ’mail-in' process that lacked all of the hallmarks of transparency and verifiability that were present for in-person voters,” and cited numerous case examples showing irregularities with regard to how mail in ballots were handled.

Among other arguments, the Trump campaign said that more than 680,000 mail-in ballots were received and tabulated in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties “without review by the political parties and candidates,” which contravenes the state’s election code.

The Trump campaign alleged, “As a result of the manner in which the County Election Boards were directed to conduct the election including the canvassing of mail-in ballots, the validity of Pennsylvanians’ votes have been unconstitutionally diluted through Defendants’ arbitrary, disparate, and/or uneven approval of all absentee and mail-in ballots without performing the requisite verification of the voter’s signature, resulting in the treatment of by-mail and in-person voters across the state in an unequal fashion in violation of state and federal constitutional standards.”

In total, over 6.7 million votes have been counted in Pennsylvania, with over 2.6 million mail-in or absentee ballots. Of those 2.6 million, over 1.7 million were for Democrat and 0.6 million were for Republican.

This case is cited Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. v. Boockvar (4:20-cv-02078).
Isabel van Brugen and Reuters contributed to this report.