U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan said the Trump campaign’s allegations of ballot drop-boxes facilitating voter fraud are “speculative” at best.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign against Pennsylvania, which sought to block the state’s use of ballot drop-boxes in the upcoming presidential election.
Alongside seeking to prevent Pennsylvania from using ballot boxes, the Trump campaign had also asked the courts to mandate the state double-check voters’ signatures and allow non-local poll watchers at in-state polling locations.
However, in a Saturday ruling, U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan of the Western District of Pennsylvania said that the Trump campaign’s concerns about electoral fraud are “speculative” at best.
“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 dismissal. “They haven’t met that burden. At most, they have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions.”
According to The Washington Post, Ranjan’s finding is but the latest of several rulings against the Trump campaign and its allies’ attempts to clamp down on absentee and remote voting amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The Post posits Ranjan’s determination as a big win for Democrats, who have been trying to expand electoral access for people who may not feel comfortable voting in person due to the risk of contracting coronavirus.
Clifford Levine, an attorney working with Democrats on the case, said he hopes Ranjan’s dismissal will allow Pennsylvania and other states to expand absentee and drop-box voting unimpeded.
“We are very pleased with the opinion, which conclusively dismisses all of the claims brought by Trump,” Levine said in a statement. “Hopefully, it will allow this election to go forward without further interference with this type of litigation.”
Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California in Irvine, told the Post he does not believe the Trump campaign would succeed if it chose to appeal Ranjan’s ruling.
“Arguments based upon the need for states to take more antifraud measures are losers because they are based on nothing more than speculation,” Hasen said.
Furthermore, says the Post, the U.S. Supreme Court has already given “a green light” for the use of drop-boxes.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said the Trump campaign has repeatedly tried to sow and disseminate false or misleading information about the safety of absentee voting.
“The ruling is a complete rejection of the continued misinformation about voter fraud and corruption, and those who seek to sow chaos and discord ahead of the upcoming election,” Gov. Wolf’s office said in a statement.
Echoing aspects of Ranjan’s ruling, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro—also a Democrat—criticized the campaign’s lawsuit as a transparent political stunt, noting that conservative attorneys failed even to argue that the state’s expanded voting system poses any risk of voter fraud or electoral abuse.
“We told the Trump campaign and the president, ‘put up or shut up’ to his claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said. “It’s important to note that they didn’t even need to prove actual voter fraud, just that it was likely or impending, and they couldn’t even do that.”