Judge throws out Trump campaign's Pennsylvania lawsuit
HARRISBURG, PA (AP) - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump's campaign, dismissing his challenge to the Battlefield State Election Observation Act and efforts to restrict postal ballot collection and which of them can be counted.
The ruling by Trump-appointed US District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan in Pittsburgh also poured cold water on Trump's claims that Pennsylvania is fertile ground for electoral fraud.
Trump's campaign said it would address at least one element of the decision, just under three weeks to election day in a state hotly contested by Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The lawsuit was denied by the government of Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, the State Democratic Party, the Women's Voter League, the Pennsylvania NAACP office, and other allied groups.
"The verdict is a complete rejection of the persistent misinformation about electoral fraud and corruption and those who want to sow chaos and discord ahead of the upcoming elections," Wolf's office said in a statement.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat whose office battled the Trump campaign allegations, called the lawsuit a political ploy that should cast doubt on the state's elections.
"We told the Trump campaign and the president to" silence or silence "allegations of election fraud in Pennsylvania," Shapiro told The Associated Press. only that it was likely or imminent, and they couldn't even do that. "
Trump's campaigning said in a statement that he was looking forward to a quick appeal court decision "that will continue to protect Pennsylvania voters from the radical Democratic electoral system."
The lawsuit is one of many partisan battles fought in state law and courts, mostly over mail-in votes in Pennsylvania, fears that a presidential election outcome will be pending for days due to a lengthy Pennsylvania vote will stay.
In this case, Trump's campaign wanted the court to prevent counties from using dropboxes or mobile sites to collect postal ballot papers that were not "occupied, secured, and consistently busy" in and across all 67 Pennsylvania counties. Trump's campaign said it would address the issue of dropboxing.
More than 20 counties - including Philadelphia and most of the other heavily populated Democratic counties - have notified the polling station that they want to use dropboxes or satellite polling stations to collect the enormous number of postal ballot papers they are likely to receive.
Trump's campaign also wanted the court to clear the county electoral officials to disqualify mail-in ballot papers where the voter's signature may not match the signature on the file and to remove a legally mandated residency requirement for certified election observers.
Last month, Wolf's chief electoral officer told counties that state law did not require or allow them to reject a postal ballot only because of a perceived inconsistency in the signature. Trump's campaign had asked Ranjan to make this guide unconstitutional and prevent districts from following it.
When Ranjan rejected the case, he wrote that the Trump campaign failed to prove its central claim: Trump's fortune in the November 3rd Pennsylvania election was threatened by election fraud, and the adoption of changes sought by the campaign, will fix this.
Ranjan wrote that Trump's campaign failed to prove that the president was injured by election fraud or that he was likely to have been injured by fraud.
"While plaintiffs may not be required to demonstrate actual electoral fraud, they must at least demonstrate that such fraud" is certain to be imminent, "wrote Ranjan. "You didn't bear this burden. At most you made a series of uncertain assumptions."
Ranjan also cited rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. 11th Circle Appeals Court in hot-button election cases in recent days, saying he shouldn't question sensible decisions by lawmakers and electoral officials.
The decision is made because Trump claims the only way to lose the state if the Democrats cheat is and, as suggested in the 2016 election campaign, that the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia must be closely monitored for election fraud.
On Friday, Trump's campaign lost an offer in a Philadelphia court to force the city to allow campaign officials to monitor its satellite electoral offices.
Democrats accuse Trump of attempting to sink some of the 3 million or more mail-in votes expected in the November 3 election in Pennsylvania, with Democrats receiving mail-in ballots at the rate of nearly three apply for one to Republicans.
Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timelywriter.
AP's Advance Voting Guide tells you how to vote early by mail or absenteeism from any state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020/
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