Oct 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit over Pennsylvania drop boxes

The Ballot Drop Box in the lobby of the Berks County Services Building in Reading, PA

A ballot drop box in the lobby of the Berks County Services Building in Reading. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

A federal judge on Saturday threw out an attempt by the Trump campaign and Republican Party to block ballot drop boxes and other voting policies in Pennsylvania.

Why it matters: The ruling represents a blow to the Trump campaign in a battleground state with less than a month before the election.

What he's saying: In his 138-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan said "the problem" with the campaign's argument of potential voter fraud was that it was "speculative" and any potential harm was not "concrete," therefore the Trump campaign had no legal standing in federal court.

  • "While Plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is 'certainly impending.' They haven't met that burden. At most, they have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions," Ranjan, who was appointed by Trump, wrote.
  • Ranjan also refused to throw out a Pennsylvania policy that the signature on a mail-in ballots does not need to strictly match a voter's signature on file with state, as well a requirement that poll workers must live in the county where they are working the polls.

The bottom line: "The 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," Ranjan wrote.

  • The state's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, celebrated the ruling, tweeting, "Voting is a right, and I promised that I’d defend that right. That’s why we went to court -- and we won. However you choose to vote, your vote WILL count."

What's next: Matthew Morgan, the Trump campaign’s general counsel, said the campaign will appeal the decision in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • “President Trump is winning the fight for a free, fair election in Pennsylvania,” Morgan told the Times in an emailed statement.. “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.”
  • Of note: Republicans already have several challenges to the state's voting polices before the Supreme Court, per CNN.

Go deeper: Trump campaign goes all in on Pennsylvania

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