A federal judge has dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit against the Philadelphia Board of Elections that sought to stop election officials counting ballots so long as Republican observers are not present as it said was required under Pennsylvania law.
The Trump campaign’s lawsuit (pdf) against the city’s election board was filed with the federal court in Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon. The campaign said that election officials are “intentionally refusing to allow any representatives and poll watchers for President Trump and the Republican Party” from Philadelphia’s ballot-counting area inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond on Thursday night said the Trump campaign acknowledged that its observers had been allowed into the venue but that they had not been given equal access or numbers as Democrats, reported local radio station WHYY News.
“I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?” Diamond, a President George W. Bush appointee, said after Trump lawyers conceded that observers had been admitted to the facility.
Diamond urged both parties to seek a resolution by agreeing to a set of mutually satisfactory rules for observation. They ultimately agreed that a fixed number of observers from each campaign—up to sixty—could be admitted. The suit was dismissed without prejudice.
Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski had announced the suit to sue the Philadelphia elections board about 5 p.m. Thursday outside the city’s ballot counting center.
“We have filed for federal relief,” Lewandowski said, reported WHYY News. “That’s what we are doing because we will not let the people of Pennsylvania go without having an election observer for every single ballot.”
Judge Guarantees GOP Observers Can Watch Ballot Counts, Elections Board Appeals Decision
Earlier in the day, a Pennsylvania judge had ruled in favor of guaranteeing Republican observers the right to watch ballot counts from no more than six feet away.
The ruling (pdf) by Democrat Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon required that effective immediately, “all candidates, watchers, or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process pursuant to 25 P.S. § 2650 and/or 25 P.S. § 3146.8 and be permitted to observe all aspects of the canvassing process within 6 feet, while adhering to all COVID-19 protocols, including, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.”
President Donald Trump celebrated the lower court ruling, writing on Twitter, “Big legal win in Pennsylvania!”
Just hours after the court ruling, the Philadelphia Board of Elections requested an appeal, seeking for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review the ruling. A court spokeswoman confirmed to The Epoch Times via email that the court received the appeal.
The president said late Thursday at a press conference, “I wonder why they’d appeal.”
“In Philadelphia, observers have been kept far away, very far away so far that people are trying to use the binoculars,” Trump said. He added that election officials even “put paper on the windows so that you can’t see.”
Trump campaign officials said that observers had been forced to watch ballots being counted from as far as 60 to 100 feet away.
Non-Compliance to Court Order: Trump Campaign
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Lewandowski said at a press conference that the Sheriff was not enforcing the latest order from Judge Cannon.
“The court order is in effect, [but] they will not give us access, and the Sheriff has decided not to come down here to enforce that court order,” Lewandowski told the crowd. “The Sheriff of your county will not come down and enforce a court order. What is going on in this city? What are you hiding? Open up the doors, let us in, let us 6 feet away so that we can have a free and fair election.”
Bondi also described how the poll workers in Philadelphia are “still not in compliance.”
“Our votes are being suppressed, we cannot count the votes properly,” she said. “What’s happening is they have moved the barriers up to 6 feet, but they took away the ballot machines that were in the front row and moved them to the back of the building.
“It’s unbelievable what they’re trying to do … whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, your legal votes must be tabulated and they’re not doing that, they will not let us see anything.”
“We are not going to stand for this, we’re not going anywhere,” she added. “They are defying a court order by the judge. This is not the last of this.”
According to The Associated Press at 8:30 p.m. EDT, Trump is currently holding a 1 percent lead at 49.9 percent over Biden at 48.9 percent, with an estimated 89 percent of the votes counted. Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes up for grabs.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that any ballots received by Nov. 6 and either postmarked by Nov. 3 or not definitively postmarked after Election Day must be counted.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.