Judge rejects Trump lawsuit over Pa. ballot drop boxes

In this July 7, 2020 photo a woman drops off a mail-in ballot at a drop box in Hackensack, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

In this July 7, 2020 photo a woman drops off a mail-in ballot at a drop box in Hackensack, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has rejected a suit from President Donald Trump’s campaign that sought to bar use of mail ballot drop boxes across the state.

The boxes were first used in this year’s primary and were deployed to keep up with unprecedented demand for mail-in voting. But in June, the Trump campaign sued the state of Pennsylvania and each county board of election in the federal Western District of Pa., arguing the decision by election officials had unconstitutionally taken power away from the legislature.

The suit further argued that varying decisions by different county election boards would lead to an inconsistent election system and that the overall mail voting system would be wracked by fraud.

“Defendants have sacrificed the sanctity of in-person voting at the altar of unmonitored mail-in voting and have exponentially enhanced the threat that fraudulent or otherwise ineligible ballots will be cast and counted in the forthcoming general election,” read the campaign’s initial suit.

But, in an opinion Saturday morning, U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan ruled in favor of the state, asserting that the Trump campaign had struggled to come up with tangible evidence to support their claims of impending fraud.

“While Plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is ‘certainly impending.’ They haven’t met that burden,” wrote Ranjan, who was appointed to the bench by Trump in July 2018.

Ranjan dismissed all claims in the initial suit, including a claim that sought to lift a residency requirement for poll watchers, so that any Pennsylvania voter could serve in that capacity at any polling location. The suit had also sought to prevent absentee ballots missing a second, internal secrecy envelope from being counted — but the court earlier decided to defer to the state Supreme Court on this matter.

It is the second legal setback for the campaign in two days. Both the president and his campaign have repeatedly sought to cast doubt over the integrity of the election process, without hard evidence.

Kevin Greenberg, a lawyer at firm Greenberg Traurig, which served as co-counsel to defendants in the case, hailed the decision.

“The court looked and saw the obvious — there was no fraud and no Constitutional case,” he wrote, in a statement. “Time after time the courts are ruling on behalf of voters — and millions of Pennsylvanians are already voting. Now is the time to end the silly litigation and let voters have their say.”

“We disagree with the Western District’s decision on unsecure drop boxes, and President Trump’s team will immediately file an appeal to the Third Circuit to continue our fight to protect every Pennsylvania voter,” said Matthew Morgan, Trump 2020 general counsel. “We look forward to a swift Third Circuit decision that will further protect Pennsylvania voters from the Democrats’ radical voting system.”

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