Judge rejects Trump campaign request for access to Philadelphia voter offices
A Philadelphia judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump's campaign to request election observers access to satellite election offices in the city.
Last week's campaign, election observers were denied entry to areas where voters were voting, prompting Trump to decipher that "bad things are happening" in Philadelphia during the televised debate against former Vice President Joe Biden.
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Days later the campaign filed a lawsuit against the city claiming "while transparency and accountability are hallmarks of electoral integrity, past actions by electoral officials in Philadelphia have undermined electoral integrity by keeping the vote secret."
"The lack of election observers at polling stations where registration and voting take place threatens the integrity of voting in elections and denies voters the constitutional right to free and fair public elections under the constitutions of the United States and Pennsylvania," the lawsuit added.
Former Vice President Joe Biden will debate President Donald Trump in Cleveland on September 29.
When Judge Gary Glazer denied the campaign petition, he wrote that Pennsylvania law does not allow such officials to observe in election offices, an attitude advocated by electoral lawyers, city officials and the state's chief electoral officer.
The city's electoral authority opened seven satellite offices on September 29 and plans to have more by election day. In these offices, residents can register to vote, apply for a postal ballot, fill it in and hand it in.
On the first day the offices were open, Trump campaign staff sought access to watch voters and staff. They claimed that the offices had been polling stations since the ballots were cast.
State law allows candidates, campaigns and political parties to appoint observers to polling stations. Observer must be a qualified, registered voter in that district and obtain a certificate from the district electoral authority.
In his 14-page decision, the judge referred to the "rather blunt language of the electoral law" when he found that the satellite offices were not polling stations and therefore observers were not allowed.
"Because of their size, timing and purpose, the satellite offices are not polling stations where electoral law observers have the right to be present," Glazer wrote.
"If this court reads into the electoral code the right of observers to be present in the offices of the electoral committee, which the legislature has not specifically provided, it would be the worst kind of legal activism," he added. "This court will not engage in such inappropriate behavior, which would mean a clear usurpation of the legislative function."
Glazer said the campaign had been invited to tour the satellite offices and recommended that they do so.
"Philadelphia County residents or qualified voters registered in Philadelphia County who are also affiliated with the campaign can enter the satellite offices to vote, request, receive, and complete their own postal ballot private and / or give up, "he said. "However, you are not allowed to stay indefinitely as an 'observer' under the electoral law in the satellite offices."
A Pennsylvania Department of State spokeswoman said the office would not comment on the ruling. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, welcomed the decision.
"Today's decision makes it clear again that the president's wild claims in court do not stand," said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. "Voters can be confident that their voice will be heard in this election."
This article originally appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times: The judge dismisses the Trump campaign's lawsuit over access to the Philadelphia polling station
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