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By Christen Smith
The Center Square 

Pa. Supreme Court Bars Trump Campaign From Election Lawsuit

 

Last updated 9/10/2020 at 12:38pm



The state’s highest court said neither the president’s reelection campaign – nor the national Republican National Committee – can intervene in a state lawsuit brought against election officials.

The split decision comes six weeks after Pa. Senate Democrats sued Pa. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and all 67 county election boards to secure ballot drop boxes, extend counting deadlines for mail-in votes and ensure poll watchers reside in the county in which they plan to serve.

The court granted motions from the Senate Republican Caucus and the state Republican Party to intervene, though Justice David N. Wecht dissented on the latter.

“In seeking to intervene in defense of a state law, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania can claim only the prospect of injury to their political interests, which does not constitute a cognizable basis upon which to intervene in this case,” he wrote Sept. 4. “Whether certain or, as in this case, merely conjectured, the political consequences of a decision at odds with a party’s policy preferences is not the law’s concern, only the merit of Petitioners’ constitutional challenges to the legal status quo vis-à-vis the conduct of elections.”

The state’s General Assembly remains sharply divided over pending election reforms that would give voters greater flexibility and compensate for COVID-19 concerns. Democrats – particularly in Philadelphia and surrounding counties – support ballot drop boxes and want local officials to count mail-in votes postmarked Nov. 3 for up to seven days after the polls close.

Republicans, however, back legislation that effectively bans drop boxes and doesn’t extend counting beyond Election Day, citing concerns of vote tampering and fraud. The Trump administration filed a separate lawsuit against state and county election officials in June alleging some of the ways ballots were collected during the primary election were improper.

But without drop boxes and extended counting, Democrats worry that many voters will face disenfranchisement – especially in the regions where community spread of COVID-19 remains high.

Some 1.8 million residents voted by mail in the June 2 primary. Estimates suggest that number will rise to 4 million in November. Republican legislators and Gov. Tom Wolf have been locked in negotiations over how to tweak state law to prevent delays in tabulating results, with little time left to enact change in time for Election Day.

 

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