Trump Campaign Lawsuit Seeking to Block Pennsylvania Vote Certification Heads to Court

November 17, 2020 Updated: November 17, 2020

A federal lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign seeking to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the vote results on grounds of inconsistent practices around “curing” ballots, is on track for a court hearing on Tuesday.

The Trump campaign wants to prevent certification of results that could give Democrat Joe Biden the state’s 20 electoral votes, suing over election procedures that were not uniform across the state. Biden’s margin in the state is now nearly 70,000 votes.

The legal challenge centers on how some counties let voters fix, or “cure,” mail-in ballots that lacked secrecy envelopes or had other problems. The suit claims counties’ inconsistent practices violated constitutional rights of due process and equal protection under the law and resulted in the “unlawful dilution or debasement” of properly cast votes.

“Democratic heavy counties,” the lawsuit alleges, notified voters about the lack of secrecy envelopes or other problems in time for some to fix them, but counties in Republican regions “followed the law and did not provide a notice and cure process, disenfranchising many.”

The lawsuit seeks to stop Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and election boards in seven Biden-majority counties that are co-defendants from counting absentee and mail-in ballots that the Republican president’s campaign claims were “improperly permitted to be cured.”

Boockvar’s lawyers have described Trump’s claims as generalized grievances and speculative injuries that would not warrant throwing out the election results.

Allegheny County Election Officials Continue Counting Ballots
Allegheny County election employees organize ballots at the elections warehouse in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 7, 2020. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew Brann told lawyers for Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and the counties and state election officials it has sued that they must show up and “be prepared for argument and questioning” at the Williamsport federal courthouse.

Brann scheduled the hearing to discuss the campaign’s request for a temporary restraining order as well as the defendants’ request to have the case dismissed.

Boockvar has asked to have the lawsuit thrown out, calling its allegations in court filings “at best, garden-variety irregularities.”

Lawyers representing Boockvar told Brann that other counties could have allowed their voters to fix problem mail-in ballots, but chose not to.

“Election practices need not cater to the lowest common denominator, and plaintiffs’ arguments would improperly penalize those counties that are enfranchising voters by helping them avoid ballot disqualification,” they argued in a filing.

Trump’s campaign has also launched legal challenges complaining that its poll watchers were unable to scrutinize the voting process. Matt Morgan, Trump’s legal counsel, told reporters Monday that in Philadelphia and Allegheny, there were over 682,000 ballots that were tabulated outside the view of GOP observers who were entitled by law to review them.

He also said the razor-thin margin in Pennsylvania is “very close” to the state’s automatic recount rules, and that the lawsuit could “swing that.”

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh on Nov. 10 criticized the handling of Pennsylvania’s presidential election, branding it as “unconstitutional.”

Murtaugh made the remarks during an appearance on Fox News’ “Outnumbered Overtime,” saying that he believes the Trump campaign’s latest lawsuit in the state, which holds 20 Electoral College votes, will “prevail.”

“What they did in Pennsylvania was conduct, basically, an unconstitutional election,” Murtaugh said. “Depending on where you were in the state and when you voted, you were treated differently.”

Epoch Times Photo
Mail-in ballots are counted in Lehigh County, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2020. (Rachel Wisniewski/Reuters)

Several major election fraud accusations have also been made in the Keystone State. A U.S. Postal Service worker said he overheard superiors discussing backdating ballots. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he’s calling on the Department of Justice to look into the allegations.

The Epoch Times won’t declare a winner until all election results are certified and any legal challenges are resolved.

It comes amid a raft of legal challenges by the Trump campaign and Republican allies, who have claimed fraud and other irregularities.

Election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and no serious irregularities have been observed.

Successful blockage of Pennsylvania’s election certification would mean the state would not participate in the Electoral College.

There is speculation that if some of Trump’s legal challenges are successful in blocking certification of election results, neither candidate would receive the needed 270 Electoral College votes and a “contingent election” could ensue, in which state delegates in the House would choose the president.

Currently, the GOP has a 26-23-1 state delegation majority in the House of Representatives.

Isabel van Brugen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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