Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar et al (20-542) – U.S. Supreme Court

Pennsylvania Republicans are asking the nation’s top court to review a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that requires election officials to accept absentee ballots received up to three days after Nov. 3. Republicans are arguing that the court’s extension violates the Constitution as the decision to extend the deadline belongs to lawmakers, not the courts. The Supreme Court had previously rejected two requests by Republicans in this case: one to hold the state Supreme Court decision and the other to expedite consideration of a petition to review the merits of the case. Nevertheless, some members of the court have indicated an interest in taking up the case. A petition for a writ of certiorari is currently being considered.

Nov. 4: The Trump campaign files a motion to join the Supreme Court challenge.

Nov. 6: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issues a temporary order in the Supreme Court case requiring Pennsylvania to segregate ballots that arrived after Election Day.

Nov. 9: Multiple Republican-led states file friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that extended the deadline for mail-in ballots in the state.

Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. v. Boockvar (District Court: 4:20-cv-02078; Appeals Court: 20-3371)

The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania seeking an injunction that blocks the Keystone State from certifying the results of the 2020 General Election, alleging that state election officials had “mismanaged the election process” and that the counting process was “shrouded in secrecy.”

Nov. 9: Lawsuit filed.

Nov. 12: Officials in the election battleground state of Pennsylvania and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ask a federal judge to dismiss the Trump campaign’s lawsuit.

Nov. 17: Court hears oral arguments in the case over a motion to dismiss.

Nov. 18: Judge orders parties to file new briefs and motions to defend and clarify their positions and arguments in the case.

Nov. 21: A federal judge dismisses the Trump campaign lawsuit.

Nov. 23: U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals grants an expedited review of the case after the Trump campaign appeals case.

Nov. 27: Third Circuit rejects the Trump campaign’s request to allow it to amend their complaint and for injunctive relief (pdf). Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis indicated that they were going to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kelly et al v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (620 MD 2020)

A Republican lawmaker and several GOP congressional candidates filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania seeking to either block the certification of election results or to exclude mail ballots from the count. Alternatively, the lawsuit asks the court to order the Pennsylvania General Assembly to choose the state’s electors.

Nov 21: Plaintiffs file a petition for review in an appellate state court.

Nov. 25: A Pennsylvania judge ordered state officials to not certify the results of the 2020 election until her court holds a hearing on an election contest on Nov. 27. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and other officials appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

Nov. 25: The hearing on Nov. 27 has been delayed due to the appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Nov. 27: Plaintiffs urge the state Supreme Court to keep in place a preliminary injunction blocking the certification of the 2020 election.

Nov. 28: Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a per curiam decision to overturn the temporary block on the certification of the election results. The court also dismissed the case, saying that the group of Republicans had filed their challenge too late.

In Re: Canvass of absentee and mail-in ballots (89-93 EM 2020)

The Trump campaign filed five separate petitions for a review of the Philadelphia County Board of Election’s decision to count votes that appear to have errors or irregularities because voters did not print their name or their address in the space provided on the outer envelope. The case challenges over 8,300 ballots cast in the county.

Nov. 13: The Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County denies all five petitions, prompting the Trump campaign to request an appeal to the appellate court.

Nov. 17: The Philadelphia County Board of Election asks the Pennslyvania Supreme Court to take up the case instead, arguing that the case is important and threatens to impact the board’s ability to meet reporting and certification deadlines.

Nov. 18: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agrees to take up the case.


Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. et al v. Boockvar (602 M.D. 2020)

The Trump campaign sued to compel Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Kathy Boockvar and 67 counties to follow an earlier deadline for voters to provide missing proof of identification if not provided on their initial ballot. Boockvar issued election guidance that extended the Nov. 9 deadline by three days, the lawsuit (pdf) states. A Pennsylvania judge on Nov. 5 ordered all counties to segregate ballots received between Nov. 10 and Nov. 12 for which missing identification was received from ballots verified on or before Nov. 9. Those segregated ballots cannot be counted until approved by the court. The judge issued a final order on Nov. 12 blocking the state from counting the segregated ballots. The judge ruled that Boockvar “lacked statutory authority” to issue the guidance to change the deadline.

In Re: Canvassing Observation (Commonwealth Court: 1094 CD 20; Supreme Court: 425 EAL 2020/30 EAP 2020)

The Trump campaign filed an appeal of a lower state court decision in Pennsylvania, asking the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to halt vote counting until Republican observers are granted adequate access. A Pennsylvania appellate court rules in favor of the Trump campaign on Nov. 5, prompting election officials to appeal to the state Supreme Court. The justices in that court ruled 5-2 to reverse appellate court’s decision on Nov. 17. The majority panel rules the state’s election code does not set a minimum distance poll observers need to stand in order to watch ballot counts and meet the laws’ requirements.

Donald J. Trump for President v. Montgomery County Board of Elections (Trial court: 18680; Commonwealth Court: 1171 CD 2020)

The Trump campaign sued the Montgomery County Board of Elections to stop counting mail-in ballots that do not comply with the election requirements. The campaign alleges that election officials were counting ballots in which the outer declaration envelope was not completely filled in with voters’ signature, address, and date. The campaign identified about 600 ballots, at the time of the filing, that did not meet such requirements. The petition was denied by the court on Nov. 13. The Montgomery County Board of Elections was ordered to count the 592 ballots. The Trump campaign appeals case to the state’s Commonwealth Court, but subsequently withdraws the appeal on Nov. 19.

Donald J. Trump for President v. Philadelphia County’s Board of Elections (20-cv-05533)

The Trump campaign sued Philadelphia County’s Board of Elections to seek an emergency injunction to stop ballot counting in Philadelphia. On Nov. 5, a federal judge denied the emergency request from the Trump campaign.