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Bad lawsuits happen in Philly? Pa. judge tosses Trump complaint over polling place restrictions

Voters exchange ballots for “I Voted Today” stickers at City Hall in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Voters exchange ballots for “I Voted Today” stickers at City Hall in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A Philadelphia judge has tossed a lawsuit from President Donald Trump’s campaign over its poll watchers being denied entry to the city’s satellite election offices — an incident that led the president to claim “bad things happen in Philadelphia” during his recent debate with Democrat Joe Biden.

The president’s campaign claimed, without hard evidence, that the seven locations could be used for voter fraud, such as surreptitious early voting, and sought to send its own “poll watchers” to observe these sites. The campaign argued that these sites, where residents would register to vote or fill out mail-in ballots, would effectively qualify as polling places and that the campaign should be able to send representatives to observe operations.

When the City Commissioners, who oversee Philadelphia elections, rejected the demand last week, Trump campaign attorneys sued.

“No one’s asking to interrupt the process,” Trump campaign attorney Linda Kerns said. “All we’re asking to do is to shine a light on it.”

But Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Glazer, in an order Friday, ruled that the satellite offices did not constitute polling places, leaving access to these locations to the discretion of the City Commissioners.

The back-and-forth led Trump to erroneously allude to the issue at a recent presidential debate — despite the fact that, at the time, the Trump campaign had no approved poll watchers in Philadelphia and no polling places had officially opened.

“In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They’re called poll watchers. A very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren’t allowed to watch. You know why?” Trump said. “Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things.”

“President Trump’s team immediately appealed this irresponsible decision, and we continue the fight for a transparent election,” said Samantha Zager, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign. “Philadelphia’s liberal officials are checking transparency and accountability at the door as they repeatedly and illegally deny Trump Campaign observers access to voting locations across the city.”

Kevin Greenberg, an election attorney that represents Democrats but was not directly involved in this case, hailed the decision.

“At the end of the day, the claims of voter fraud, or ‘bad things happening in Philadelphia,’ simply have no basis in the facts or the law,” he said.

Trump, who is trailing in both national and swing state polling, has repeatedly sought to undermine confidence in the 2020 election.

Glazer Order by Ryan Briggs on Scribd

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