By Simon Veazey
The Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit alleging the Pennsylvania election process violated the Constitution by creating different standards of verification and transparency for mail-in and in-person voters.
In a statement on Nov. 9, the Trump campaign said that the “two-tiered” system violated the Equal Protection Clause and the Elections and Electors Clauses of the Constitution.
“Voters in Pennsylvania were held to different standards simply based on how they chose to cast their ballot, and we believe this two-tiered election system resulted in potentially fraudulent votes being counted without proper verification or oversight, as well as many voters being disenfranchised simply for casting their votes in-person,” said Matt Morgan, general counsel for the Trump campaign.
The campaign claims in the lawsuit (pdf) that both the system and the way it was enacted created a lower barrier for mail-in ballots, and “diluted” the weight of legally-cast in-person ballots.
In total over 6.7 million votes have been counted in Pennsylvania, with over 2.6 million mail-in or absentee ballots. Of those 2.6 million, just over 1.7 million were for Democrat and 0.6 million for Republican.
The lawsuit is the latest in a clutch filed by the Trump campaign in various swing states since the election.
In Pennsylvania, before the election, the campaign already filed a plea for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the merits of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that allowed mail-in ballots to be counted three days after the vote. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether to take up the case.
In their plea to the U.S. Supreme Court, the campaign said that the decision by the state court is unconstitutional because only state legislatures, not courts, are allowed to set the means of deciding the electoral college.
Yesterday’s lawsuit makes the same argument but adds the claim that the system violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
The campaign said that in-person voters, as per the state electoral code, had to sign registrations with their signatures then be checked against voter rolls. This had to be done “in a polling place monitored by statutorily-authorized poll observers, and have their votes counted in a transparent and verifiable open and observed manner.”
In contrast, the campaign alleges that mail-in voters had a lower barrier to verification in a system “cloaked in darkness.”
The lawsuit says the system allowed ballots “received up to three days after the election to be counted without any evidence of timely mailings, such as a postmark.” The campaign says that mail-in ballots lacked “sufficient monitoring over the reviewing and counting of mail-in ballots.”
The 105-page lawsuit gives various examples of witnesses to the above allegations across various counties.
Segregation of Ballots
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito late Friday ordered Pennsylvania election officials to segregate ballots that arrived after Election Day.
Alito granted a request by the state’s Republican Party to separate mail-in ballots received between 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 and 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 from those that arrived by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, in accordance with state guidance.
The justice, however, did not order the counties to stop counting but instead ordered that “all such ballots, if counted, be counted separately.”
A group of 10 attorneys general on Nov. 9 filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit from Pennsylvania Republicans and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that extended the deadline for mail-in ballots in the state.
A number of media outlets declared Democratic nominee Joe Biden as president-elect on Saturday, after projected victories in Pennsylvania and Nevada put him over the 270 electoral vote threshold.
President Donald Trump has alleged voter fraud and said any declarations of victory are premature, with his campaign announcing legal challenges in several states.