The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday dealt President Donald Trump’s campaign yet another legal loss, ruling that mail-in ballots cast in the state’s presidential election can be counted even if a voter failed to completely fill out the envelope.
The ruling comes on the heels of a federal judge’s decision in the state that dismissed the campaign’s request to block certification of votes expected to confirm a victory there for President-elect Joe Biden.
The state Supreme Court’s judgment knocked down multiple lawsuits that the Trump campaign had been pursuing as part of its efforts to overturn the outcome of Pennsylvania’s presidential election.
These cases were aimed at the Board of Elections in Philadelphia County, the most populous area in Pennsylvania and one that overwhelmingly voted for Biden over Trump.
The campaign’s lawsuits were focused on the fewer than 9,000 absentee and mail-in ballots that the county elections board decided to count despite possible errors on the outer envelopes. The campaign had argued that these errors, which included failing to handwrite a proper name, date or street address on the outside of the ballot-return envelope, were disqualifying. But the Supreme Court disagreed.
The court also noted that the campaign was not arguing that there was any evidence of fraud associated with these ballots.
Outside of the courtroom, Trump’s lawyers and surrogates have been quick to assert sweeping allegations of fraud at a state and national level. One lawyer, Sidney Powell, claimed without evidence that an international communist-linked conspiracy was afoot to rig election software against Trump. Powell was effectively fired from the Trump campaign’s legal team after making those claims, which were immediately met with heavy criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
But when standing before a judge under oath, some of the same people, such as Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, have declined to argue that election fraud had been committed.
“Here we conclude that while failures to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, do not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters,” Justice Christine Donohue wrote in the judgment of the court.
If the Trump campaign had won the case and invalidated the votes, it would not have been nearly enough to theoretically overcome Biden’s more than 81,000-vote lead in Pennsylvania — even if all of the ballots in question had gone to Biden.
Trump now likely finds himself left with the federal case, whose loss his campaign has appealed in part, as his last legal shot to overturn Biden’s electoral victory in Pennsylvania.
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