A federal judge in Pittsburgh was right to rule against the lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign challenging Pennsylvania’s rules for mail voting and poll watchers.
U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, a Trump appointee, ruled that the campaign did not prove a serious threat of voter fraud.
The lawsuit against Pennsylvania questioned the use of mail-ballot drop boxes, sought to require signature analysis for mail ballots, and argued that poll watchers for candidates and parties should be permitted to observe polling places in counties other than where they are registered to vote.
The Trump campaign’s argument was soundly rejected.
“While plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is ‘certainly impending,’” Ranjan wrote in his 138-page opinion. “They haven’t met that burden. At most, they have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions,” he added.
The ruling was the latest legal setback for the president in a flurry of desperate election-related lawsuits to suppress the vote in Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania. With 20 electoral votes, Pennsylvania is a key battleground state in the presidential election in November.
The ruling means that the Trump campaign can’t have poll watchers at Philadelphia satellite election offices.
The ruling marked the second loss in court in a week for the campaign. A Philadelphia judge ruled last Friday that poll watchers don’t have a right to observe activity in satellite election offices where voters can apply for, complete and return mail ballots.
Both lawsuits are part of a broader effort by Trump to attack mail voting and cast doubt on the integrity of the election, despite no evidence of widespread problems or fraud. Trump himself drew attention to Pennsylvania and Philadelphia during last month’s presidential debate when he said, “bad things happen in Philadelphia.” This is the first year any Pennsylvania voter can cast a ballot by mail.
While the lawsuit was a loss for the Trump campaign’s effort to limit mail voting, the campaign plans to appeal Ranjan’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
The federal lawsuit in which Ranjan ruled Saturday comes after Pennsylvania’s high court also ruled against the Trump campaign on drop boxes and poll watchers.
The Trump’s campaign lawsuit sought to restrict safe voting options during deadly pandemic, raise doubts about mail voting and intimidate through poll watchers.
The judge’s ruling is a victory for voters.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)