Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules on Trump campaign claim it could not observe vote count

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign’s contention that Republicans were not given enough access to vote tabulation in Philadelphia.

The Tuesday ruling by the state’s highest court is another blow to the campaign and allied parties’ legal barnstorm across several states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, and Michigan. The 5-2 ruling vacates a lower court’s ruling siding with the Trump campaign.

The campaign had argued that Republican ballot observers did not get appropriate access while attempting to watch the tabulation process at the Philadelphia Convention Center, where absentee and mail-in ballots were being counted. Observers claimed they couldn’t meaningfully witness ballots being counted because they were placed between 13 feet and up to 100 feet away from the tabulation.

After the campaign’s claims were initially shot down in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, it appealed to the Commonwealth Court. Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon reversed the trial court order and ruled that election officials must allow “all candidates, watchers, or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process … and be permitted to observe all aspects of the canvassing process within 6 feet” while adhering to coronavirus precautions.

President Trump and his campaign had lauded the lower-court win as a “major victory for election integrity.” But the Supreme Court justices said in Tuesday’s ruling that the Philadelphia Board of Elections had laid out “reasonable” regulations and highlighted that distance parameters were not codified into state election law.

“In sum, we conclude the [Elections] Board did not act contrary to law in fashioning its regulations governing the positioning of candidate representatives during the precanvassing and canvassing process, as the Election Code does not specify minimum distance parameters for the location of such representatives,” Justice Debra Todd wrote for the majority.

“Critically, we find the Board’s regulations as applied herein were reasonable in that they allowed candidate representatives to observe the Board conducting its activities as prescribed under the Election Code,” she continued, adding that the lower court’s ruling was “erroneous.”

The loss comes the same day as Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani argued in Pennsylvania federal court that certain Democratic-leaning counties wrongfully intervened by reviewing mail-in ballots for deficiencies and allowing them to be “cured.” In court on Tuesday, Giuliani said that the situation in Pennsylvania is indicative of “widespread nationwide voter fraud.”

In the federal case, the Trump campaign is hoping to have an emergency order issued that would prevent Pennsylvania from certifying the Nov. 3 election.

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