State Watch

Federal judge rejects Trump suit to block ballot drop boxes in Pennsylvania

A federal judge rejected a lawsuit from President Trump’s reelection campaign to limit the amount of ballot drop boxes in Pennsylvania, handing Democrats a win in their effort to boost voter turnout in the key swing state. 

U.S. District Court Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, who was appointed to bench by Trump, wrote in a 138-page ruling that the GOP had been “speculative” that the drop boxes and other efforts to expand access to voting would be vulnerable to fraud, saying the Trump campaign’s claims to injury are not “concrete.”

“While plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is ‘certainly impending,’” he said. “They haven’t met that burden.”

“[T]he Court finds that the election regulations put in place by the General Assembly and implemented by Defendants do not significantly burden any right to vote. They are rational. They further important state interests. They align with the Commonwealth’s elaborate election-security measures. They do not run afoul of the United States Constitution. They will not otherwise be second-guessed by this Court,” he continued. 

Ranjan also shot down the campaign’s effort to reverse a Pennsylvania rule that county boards of elections not reject ballots “where the voter’s signature does not match the one on file.”

The ruling sends the matters back to state courts, which have thus far said Republicans’ allegations of widespread voter fraud and the vulnerability of mail-in voting remain flimsy, arguments Ranjan appeared to agree with.

“To establish a ‘concrete’ injury, Plaintiffs rely on a chain of theoretical events,” he wrote. “The problem with this theory of harm is that this fraud hasn’t yet occurred, and there is insufficient evidence that the harm is ‘certainly impending.’”

The Trump campaign said it intends to appeal the ruling.

“President Trump is winning the fight for a free, fair election in Pennsylvania,” Matthew Morgan, the Trump campaign’s general counsel, told The Hill.

“We’ve continued the fight against the Democrats’ completely unmonitored, unsecure drop boxes in the federal courts. Clearly, we disagree with the Western District’s decision on unsecure drop boxes, and President Trump’s team will immediately file an appeal.”

The ruling marks a key win for Democrats who are looking to win the Keystone State. Trump won the state in 2016, marking the first time a Republican presidential candidate won Pennsylvania since 1988.

Democrats scored another legal victory late Friday night after a federal judge shot down a Texas proclamation limiting each of the state’s 254 counties to just one ballot drop-off location.

Tags 2020 election Donald Trump federal court mail-in ballots Pennsylvania voter fraud

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