Judge Rejects Trump Challenge to Pennsylvania’s Mail Voting

A judge on Saturday dismissed a suit brought by President Donald Trump’s campaign that challenged Pennsylvania’s vote by mail procedures for November’s elections.

The ruling by District Judge Nicholas Ranjan rejected claims related to the state’s plan to use unmanned ballot drop boxes and bar ballots from being rejected based on perceived signature mismatches.

Some election watchers expect the 2020 presidential contest to be decided by the Keystone State, most polls show Trump trailing Democrat Joe Biden. Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by about 44,000 votes over Hillary Clinton.

Ranjan also rejected the Trump campaign’s attempt to allow poll watchers who don’t live in the county they want to monitor. The ruling says fears about voter fraud are “speculative.”

“All of these assumptions could end up being true, and these events could theoretically happen. But so could many things. The relevant question here is: are they ‘certainly impending’? At least based on the evidence presented, the answer to that is ‘no,” Ranjan wrote in a 138-page ruling.

“This is a win for voters and our democracy. We have been in court for months protecting the right to vote and working to this outcome for all of you,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Vote by mail or in person, however you choose. Your vote will count.”

Looking at Options

Republican National Committee national press secretary Mandi Merritt said that, “We are disappointed with the ruling and are assessing our options for appeal.”

Manjan wrote that “federal courts adjudicate cases and controversies, where a plaintiff’s injury is concrete and particularized. Here, however, Plaintiffs have not presented a concrete injury to warrant federal-court review.”

The Trump campaign and the RNC “essentially ask this Court to second-guess the judgment of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and election officials, who are experts in creating and implementing an election plan,” the judge wrote.

Republicans could be correct that drop boxes should be guarded, that signature-analysis experts should mail-in ballot, and that poll watchers should be allowed to come from different counties, according to the ruling.

“But the job of an unelected federal judge isn’t to suggest election improvements, especially when those improvements contradict the reasoned judgment of democratically elected officials.”

Separately, Pennsylvania Republicans are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to require that all mail-in ballots in the state be counted by Election Day.

They’re challenging a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that extended the ballot-receipt deadline by three days, and said ballots could count even if they lack a clear postmark showing they were mailed by Election Day.

— With assistance by Megan Howard

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