This Saturday, a federal judge dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania, a state which is considered a crucial battleground in this year’s election. The lawsuit would have limited drop boxes for ballots within the state, attempted to expand poll watchers, and challenged guidance that suggested against tossing out votes based only on inconsistencies between signatures.
The case was thrown out by U.S. District Court Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, who was appointed by President Trump.
This seems to be part of Trump’s long struggle against mail-in voting, which has come to define much of this election year. Trump has repeatedly said that mail-in voting will lead to a widely fraudulent election (something which has been pretty consistently debunked; there’s little to no evidence that mail-in voting significantly increases voter fraud). Despite this, Trump has maintained his stance on the issue. In fact, during the first presidential debate between himself and Democratic opponent Joe Biden, Trump specifically referenced the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia, saying:
“In Philadelphia, they went in to watch, they were called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things.”
This appears to be in reference to “poll watchers” who were indeed ejected from satellite offices in the state. However, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that poll watchers in Pennsylvania are not legally allowed to observe at satellite locations (and, in fact, are not allowed to observe until Election Day), and that many or all of those ejected were “self-appointed observers, not licensed poll watchers.”
In his 138-page ruling where he dismissed the lawsuit, Judge Ranjan wrote that, “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.”
These assumptions, according to the ruling, include the assumption that potential fraudsters might “attempt to commit election fraud through the use of drop boxes or forged ballots” and the assumptions that the election-security measures of county election officials may fail while “their own security measures may have prevented that fraud.”
“All of these assumptions could end up being true, and these events could theoretically happen,” the ruling continues. “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.’”
AP News reports that Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf’s office released a statement on the matter, which said: “The ruling is a complete rejection of the continued misinformation about voter fraud and corruption, and those who seek to sow chaos and discord ahead of the upcoming election.”
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro stated: “This is a win for voters and our democracy. We have been in court for months protecting the right to vote and working to get this outcome for all of you. Vote by mail or in person, however you choose. Your vote will count.”
The Trump campaign is currently planning to appeal the ruling.