November 21, 2020 – A federal district court judge today dismissed a lawsuit brought by President Trump’s campaign for reelection against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and seven counties, dealing a crippling blow to the president’s attempts to undermine the election’s expected results in the commonwealth. In an amended version of the lawsuit filed on November 15, the Trump campaign asked the court to order the Department of State to not certify its presidential election results because some counties contacted and permitted voters to fix mistakes with their mail ballot declarations while others did not.
Judge Matthew Brann rejected these arguments, saying, “(T)his Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations…unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state.”
Intervenors in the case hailed the ruling as a victory for democracy and for the state’s voters. Last week, Judge Brann granted intervention by Black Political Empowerment Project, Common Cause Pennsylvania, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, and eight impacted voters, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Public Interest Law Center, and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP. That ruling allowed the lawyers for the organizations and voters to participate as parties in the lawsuit.
“This is a victory for voters. All voters deserve to have their voices heard and their ballots counted,” said Suzanne Almeida, elections advisor for Common Cause Pennsylvania. “This lawsuit was a blatant attempt to change the rules after the election was over and silence the voices of the people. Voters in Pennsylvania and around the country have made a clear decision. It’s time for the results of this election to be accepted and the will of the people honored.”
Along with Boockvar, the Trump campaign also sued the boards of elections of Philadelphia, Allegheny, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Northampton, and Centre counties.
“This case sought to invalidate the votes of our clients and, at its most extreme, the votes of nearly seven million Pennsylvanians,” said Mimi McKenzie, legal director of the Public Interest Law Center. “We hope this decision ends the farce that this campaign has put Pennsylvania voters through these last few weeks. We are pleased that truth and democracy has prevailed over wild conspiracy theories, false claims, and unfounded fraud charges.”
“Pennsylvania voters have spoken in greater numbers than ever before, and today’s decision confirms the sanctity of the vote,” said Terrie Griffin, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. “It is time to move past the desperate accusations, stop the perpetuation of false claims, and accept the choices of Pennsylvania voters.”
Despite numerous filings in this and several other cases, the Trump campaign has yet to produce evidence of misconduct that impacted actual votes or the results of the election. In their own filing asking the court to dismiss the case, the intervenors noted that the law required the Trump campaign to bring its objections over process before the election, which was a position that the Trump campaign itself held in 2016 in response to a lawsuit brought by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“This ruling rejects the Trump campaign’s baseless attacks on the election results in Pennsylvania. It is past time for the campaign to stop its shenanigans and move on. The voters have spoken,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
“This should put the nail in the coffin on any further attempts by President Trump to use the federal courts to rewrite the outcome of the 2020 election,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The court could not be any clearer in underscoring the baseless and meritless nature of the claims presented in this case. Voters across the commonwealth overcame tremendous obstacles to register their voice, and this suit sought to disenfranchise them without a scintilla of evidence.”
While the Trump campaign has the option to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, election-related deadlines loom, including Monday’s deadline for counties to certify their results with the Department of State.
“The court saw through the attempts by President Trump and his enablers in Washington and Harrisburg to interfere with democracy,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The people of Pennsylvania have had their say, and it is time to put this election behind us.”