Pennsylvania Lawmakers Seek to Withdraw Certification of Election Results in Lawsuit

December 8, 2020 Updated: December 8, 2020

A group of 11 Pennsylvania voters launched a lawsuit asking the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to direct Gov. Tom Wolf to withdraw the certification of the 2020 general election results.

The plaintiffs, among whom are nine Republican state representatives and one Republican state senator, also asked for the court to issue an emergency order to temporarily block the state’s 20 Democratic presidential electors, listed in the lawsuit as among the defendants, from casting votes for president in the Electoral College based upon the current election results.

Other defendants in the suit are Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, both of whom are Democrats.

The suit is led by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe.

“The 2020 general election in Pennsylvania was fraught with numerous violations of Pennsylvania’s Election Code perpetrated by predominantly Democratic county election officials. In addition, there are countless documented election irregularities and improprieties that prevent an accurate accounting of the election results in the presidential election,” reads the complaint (pdf), filed on Dec. 4.

“Many of the irregularities directly relate to the county boards of elections’ handing of absentee and mail-in ballots; the pre-canvassing and canvassing of ballots; the failure to permit legally appropriate and adequate oversight and transparency of the process; and the failure to maintain and secure ballot integrity and security throughout the election process,” it continues.

“As such, the 2020 general election results are so severely flawed that it is impossible to certify the accuracy of the purported results.”

tom wolf pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks to the press in Harrisburg, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2020. (The Office of Governor Tom Wolf/Flikr) [CC BY 2.0 (ept.ms/2haHp2Y)]
Lyndsay Kensinger, a spokesperson for Wolf, said in a statement to media outlets of the latest court filing: “This is just another attempt by some Republicans to spread disinformation and ignore reality. Allegations of fraud and tired conspiracy theories have been repeatedly debunked and dismissed by the courts.”

The spokesperson asserted that Pennsylvania had a “free and fair election” and accused the Republican lawmakers of “trying to steal the vote of Pennsylvanians.”

Boockvar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Allegations

Plaintiffs alleged several election violations and irregularities.

In one case, they alleged, citing “information and belief,” that defendants Wolf and Boockvar had failed to follow up on the recommendations of an audit report (pdf), issued in December 2019. The audit was conducted on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s computer system that contains a database of all registered voters in the state. It included a data analysis that found “tens of thousands” of potentially duplicate and inaccurate voter records, as well as nearly 3,000 potentially deceased voters still on the voter rolls in the system, called the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE). Among other points, the audit report recommended that the Department of State should update its guidance to address such issues.

The plaintiffs provided an affidavit (pdf) of a USPS contractor, Jesse Richard Morgan, who alleged that he was directed to transport what he believed to be completed Pennsylvania ballots in the election across state lines, from New York to Pennsylvania. The complaint stated that, pending further investigations currently underway, “there is no possible way” that the validity of the election “could possibly be certified” by Wolf.

The suit also took issue with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s move in September to permit county election boards to accept mail-in ballots at locations other than offices of the election boards, “including through the use of drop-boxes arbitrarily located throughout the county.” The court had also extended the deadline of mail-in ballots to be received by three days after Nov. 3. Plaintiffs alleged that the state’s highest court had “arguably usurped the powers” of state legislators.

Plaintiffs also alleged that the boards of election in Pennsylvania’s Democratic counties “routinely helped identify, facilitate, and permitted” voters to cure their defective absentee and mail-in ballots, which they asserted was in violation of the Election Code. An email from October 2020 was presented as evidence, showing that the director of mail-in elections of Montgomery County had issued a directive saying that voters can correct their ballots through a few ways, including to cancel or replace ballots.

In order to cancel or replace a voter’s mail-in ballot, election officials would have to manually change the information in the SURE system, but there is no authority in the Election Code that would allow for election officials to do so, plaintiffs noted.

“The effect to utilize provisional ballots to ‘cure’ defective absentee and mail-in ballots is in clear violation of the Election Code. The number of provisional ballots cast in Pennsylvania is in the tens of thousands,” the filing states.

Plaintiffs also attached an affidavit (pdf) from Republican poll watcher Gregory Stenstrom, who wrote about several violations of the Election Code from his observation of the election process in Delaware County.

They provided a report by state Rep. Francis X. Ryan, also one of the plaintiffs, whom they said “will testify and identify significant and dispositive discrepancies and errors” that call into question the election results.

The report from Ryan (pdf) asserted that the mail-in ballot process was “so defective that it is essential to declare the selection of presidential electors for the commonwealth to be in dispute.”

This case is Metcalfe, Diamond, Kefer, Sankey, Kauffman, et al. v. Wolf and Boockvar, et al. (636 MD 2020)

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