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Pennsylvania Judge Won’t Let Trump’s Lawsuit Against the State’s Mail-in Voting System Continue

— August 25, 2020

A Pennsylvania-based federal court said that Trump’s lawsuit cannot continue until state challenges to mail-in voting’s constitutionality are resolved.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s voting procedures from moving forward.

According to CNN, Trump’s lawsuit intended to gauge—and challenge—how Pennsylvania conducts mail-in voting during the upcoming presidential election. The complaint explicitly criticized the state’s use of drop boxes, poll watching, and other procedures meant to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus on November 3rd.

The ruling, made by Judge Nicholas Ranjan of the U.S. District Court in the District of Western Pennsylvania, may be a setback for Trump and his Republican allies.

Over the course of the past several months, President Trump has increasingly sounded the alarm on mail-in voting. Despite a lack of supporting evidence, Trump has repeatedly claimed that mail-in voting is unusually susceptible to voter fraud. The President has also asserted that Democrats are pushing mail-in voting in attempt to “steal” the election from him.

Interestingly, Ranjan is a Trump-appointed judge himself. In his ruling, he said the courts should prioritize challenges to Pennsylvania’s voting procedures which have arisen within and at the level of the state.

“After carefully considering the arguments raised by the parties, the Court finds that the appropriate course is abstention, at least for the time being,” Ranjan wrote. “In other words, the court will apply the brakes to this lawsuit, and allow the Pennsylvania state courts time to weigh in and interpret the state statutes that undergird Plaintiffs’ federal- constitutional claims.”

A picture of President Trump. Image via Flickr/user:Gage Skidmore. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Pennsylvania, adds CNN, is one of a handful of states that Trump and his election campaign have targeted in lawsuits.

Justin Clark, deputy manager for Trump 2020, told CNN that Pennsylvania’s mail-in system is “radical.”

“The President’s fight against the problems of Pennsylvania’s radical new vote-by-mail system has been running on parallel tracks in state and federal court for some time,” Clark said.

Clark surmised that Judge Ranjan’s ruling is not necessarily injurious to the Trump campaign’s case—if anything, it may signal federal courts’ skepticism of Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting policy.

“The judge’s stay today is simply a recognition of the multitude of issues surrounding Pennsylvania’s dangerous voting system—including ballot harvesting and double voting—touch both federal and state constitutional issues,” Clark told CNN. “The federal court is simply going to reserve its judgment on this in hopes that the state court will resolve these serious issues and guarantee that every Pennsylvanian has their vote counted—once.”

The York Daily Record notes that the Trump campaign wants to ban Pennsylvania from using ballot drop-boxes while further prohibiting individual counties from accepting absentee ballots posted without a security envelope.

Alongside such additional restrictions on remote voting, the President also wants Pennsylvania to allow poll watchers to be appointed from anywhere in the state—not just from the county in which they seek to work.


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