Pennsylvania Judge Rules In Favor Of Trump Campaign, Orders State Can’t Count Some Ballots

Topline
A Pennsylvania state judge ruled Thursday in favor of the Trump campaign and ordered the state not to count some mail-in ballots that were missing proof of identification and cured during an extended deadline—but the ruling will not change the vote count as it currently stands and will not impact Joe Biden’s win in the state.

Election workers count ballots on November 03, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer … [+] Platt/Getty Images)

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Key Facts

The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit last week challenging Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar’s decision to extend the deadline for voters to provide proof of identification if it was originally missing from their mail-in ballot (the deadline was extended from Nov. 9 to Nov. 12).

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court had previously ordered any ballots fixed during the extended deadline to be segregated as the case played out in court.

In a ruling Thursday, Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said Boockvar “lacked statutory authority” to change the deadline, and said election officials are “enjoined from counting any ballots” that were cured during the extended deadline.

Since the ballots had already been segregated, they were not included in the state’s vote count and thus not counting them will not affect Biden’s win in Pennsylvania.

It is unclear how many ballots will be affected by the ruling, but the Philadelphia Inquirer projects the number is likely to be “small,” noting that Philadelphia County, the largest county in the state, only flagged 2,100 ballots that had identification issues.

The Pennsylvania Department of State declined to comment on the ruling.

Big Number
53,580. That’s the number of votes by which Biden leads President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, as of Thursday afternoon. That lead will not be affected by the ballots at issue in Thursday’s ruling.

Key Background
The Pennsylvania lawsuit is one of a large number of post-election lawsuits from the GOP and Trump campaign that challenge mail-in ballots and voting rules in battleground states, which have predominantly focused on Pennsylvania but also included lawsuits in Michigan, Arizona and Georgia. Though the Trump campaign did prevail in the proof of identification lawsuit, their legal challenges have more broadly been dismissed by legal experts as being largely meritless attempts to sow distrust in the election results, which experts believe have little chance of actually succeeding in court. “They all seem to have no merit whatsoever,” Joshua Douglas, an election law professor at the University of Kentucky, told the Guardian about Trump’s lawsuits Friday. “I think the goal is to sow discord and distrust and undermine the people and the integrity of the election.”

What To Watch For
There are still a number of outstanding lawsuits that have been brought by the Trump campaign and GOP in Pennsylvania, including a wide-ranging Trump campaign lawsuit seeking to invalidate the state’s election that legal experts say has “little chance of succeeding.” The U.S. Supreme Court could also still potentially invalidate Pennsylvania’s extended mail-in voting deadline, which allowed mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to be accepted as long as they were delivered by Friday, Nov. 6. That ruling would only affect approximately 10,000 ballots, elections officials have said—which are being segregated and are not included in the current vote count—and thus invalidating them would not affect Biden’s win in Pennsylvania.

Further Reading
Pa. appellate court sides with Trump in fight over ID deadlines for voters, tossing small number of ballots (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Pennsylvania Court Orders State To Segregate Some Mail-In Ballots In Response To Trump Challenge (Forbes)

Trump Goes To Supreme Court, Files Lawsuits To Stop Vote Counting In Pennsylvania (Forbes)

Trump’s Strategy To Contest Election Hinges On Claims Of Voter Fraud That Have Already Been Largely Rejected By Courts (Forbes)

Here’s Why Trump’s Ongoing Lawsuits Won’t Affect Joe Biden’s Victory (Forbes)

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