Philadelphia Sheriff Not Enforcing Court Order on Poll Observers, Trump Campaign Says

November 5, 2020 Updated: November 5, 2020

Trump campaign officials said on Thursday that the Philadelphia sheriff is refusing to enforce a judge’s order that compels election officials to allow Republican observers adequate access to monitor the ballot count.

Earlier on Thursday, Commonwealth Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon, a Democrat, ordered that effective immediately “all candidates, watchers, or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process … and be permitted to observe all aspects of the canvassing process within 6 feet.”

Trump campaign associate Pam Bondi told reporters outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Thursday afternoon that the election officials inside have moved the barricade within 6 feet of the counting area but defied the court order by moving all of the counting machines to the back of the building where they cannot be seen.

“They are still not in compliance,” Bondi said. “It’s unbelievable what they are trying to do to our votes that have been legally cast.”

“They will not let us see anything,” Bondi added. “Now, we’re going to take further remedy to fix this.”

“They are defying a court order by a judge and this is not the last of this.”

Trump campaign associate Corey Lewandowski said that a private attorney inside the building informed the Republican poll observers that “she would determine if the court order was valid or not.”

“They have eight attorneys fighting us to see these ballots inside,” Lewandowski said. “The court order is in effect. They will not give us access and the sheriff has decided not to come down here to enforce that court order.”

The Office of Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal, a Democrat, did not respond to a voicemail left with the office of its public information officer.

Trump campaign officials said on Nov. 4 that observers had been forced to watch ballots being counted from as far away as 100 feet. Election officials used a barricade and some type of security guard to keep observers from getting closer, Bondi told reporters on Nov. 4

The Philadelphia City Commissioners said in a statement that the vote count was resuming just after noon, following “a brief pause” in light of the ongoing litigation. “It has resumed in accordance with the law,” it said.

The city appealed the ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

According to the appeal asking for an emergency review, the ruling “is wrong, and because it jeopardizes both the safety of the City Defendants’ canvass, plus the privacy of voters, immediate allowance of appeal is warranted.”

A spokeswoman for the court didn’t respond to an inquiry.

Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes are up for grabs, with Trump in the lead and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden not yet out of the running.

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.

According to unofficial results from the Pennsylvania Department of State on Thursday morning, Trump was ahead with 3.2 million votes to Biden’s 3 million.

Trump said late Wednesday that he won Pennsylvania.

Biden’s campaign has said they’re confident the final tally will see the Democrat on top.

Zachary Stieber and Allen Zhong contributed to this report.

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