President Donald Trump is enjoying a victory in Pennsylvania after a judge ruled in favor of his campaign. According to the ruling, the secretary of state made changes to the rules just days before the election — something she lacked the authority to do.
As President Donald Trump refuses to concede the election, claiming widespread fraud, his campaign has filed lawsuits challenging the vote count in swing states. Pennsylvania has become the focal point of the Trump campaign’s legal fight as it seeks to claw back the commonwealth’s 20 electoral votes, claiming Pennsylvania was stolen from the president.
On Thursday, President Trump’s re-election campaign was handed a minor legal victory when a Pennsylvania judge ruled that a small number of ballots be tossed. The issue arose after Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar (D), who oversees elections in the state, issued guidance, saying that proof of ID could be provided up until November 12 to cure ballots.
The problem is that existing Pennsylvania law states that voters have up to six days after the election to cure issues with a ballot, such as a lack of identification, The Blaze reported. With the election taking place on November 3 this year, that would mean voters should only have until November 9 to correct their ballots — not given until November 12 as Boockvar had said.
So, what happened?
In September, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots could be accepted up to three days after Election Day. The issue went to the U.S. Supreme Court, and following a 4-4 tie, Pennsylvania was permitted to accept ballots three days after Election Day, which would be November 6. Then, on November 1 — just two days before Election Day, Boockvar said proof of ID could be provided to cure ballots 6 days after that deadline.
Of course, President Trump’s legal team argued — rightfully — that Boockvar did not have the authority to change the deadline date from November 9 to November 12. Pennsylvania Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt agreed. On Thursday, she ruled that Boockvar “lacked statutory authority” to enable an extension period to cure ballots.
“[T]he Court concludes that Respondent Kathy Boockvar, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth, lacked statutory authority to issue the November 1, 2020, guidance to Respondents County Boards of Elections insofar as that guidance purported to change the deadline … for certain electors to verify proof of identification,” Leavitt said in a court order.
With the ruling in favor of the Trump campaign, the judge ordered that the stat may not count mail-in ballots, where voters failed to validate their identification before November 9. The ballots received from November 10 through November 12 had been segregated until there was a ruling to determine whether they could be legally counted.
Now, they will be tossed out with the Pennsylvania appellate court’s ruling that bars counties from including those votes in their final tally. “Accordingly, the court hereby orders the respondents County Board of Elections are enjoined from counting any ballots that have been segregated pursuant to Paragraph 1 of this court’s order dated November 5, 2020, granting a special injunction,” Leavitt wrote.
Although it’s unclear how many votes will be scrapped, the NY Post reports that “it will not make a difference in Joe Biden’s current 54,000-vote advantage over Trump in the Keystone State since they were never included in Pennsylvania’s official tally. In Philadelphia, officials only found some 2,136 ballots for which election officials were unable to verify the voter’s identity, often done with a driver’s license.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer adds, “None of the votes affected by the ruling had yet been included in the state’s official tally.” That hasn’t stopped Trump 2020 counsel Matt Morgan from celebrating the ruling, though. In a call with reporters, he called it “a win for the Trump campaign and voters alike” in the state.
Morgan added that the ruling “supported our continued assertion that the secretary of state continues to play fast and loose with statutory deadlines, and has done so throughout this entire election.” Indeed, regardless of who receives the 20 electoral votes for Pennsylvania, this is a win for the entire country. No one in a position of power has the right to abuse their authority, going above and beyond what the law allows.
Obviously, the fight isn’t over, though. The case decided by Leavitt was a relatively minor skirmish in a much wider legal war that the Trump campaign is waging in multiple state and federal courtrooms across Pennsylvania. Hopefully, those additional cases will also help return integrity to our election process — something that should be desired and applauded by both sides.