The Lead

Federal judge pauses Trump lawsuit to toss Pa. ballot drop off boxes

By: - August 24, 2020 10:00 am

(c) Scott Van Blarcom –

A federal judge temporarily placed a Trump campaign lawsuit against Pennsylvania on hold Sunday to allow state courts a chance to lay out their interpretation of a new state election law.

The lawsuit, brought by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee, and a handful of Pennsylvania’s GOP congressmen, alleged voter fraud throughout the state, and asked for the federal courts to find illegal ballot drop off boxes and expand the use of poll watchers.

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan put the case on hold until Oct. 5 to allow for state courts to instead decide on the matter.

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“The federal court is simply going to reserve its judgment on this in the hopes that the state court will resolve these serious issues and guarantee that every Pennsylvanian has their vote counted—once,” Justin Clark, a Trump campaign deputy campaign manager, told the Associated Press.

A number of legal filings are working their way through state and federal courts over Act 77, Pennsylvania’s vote by mail law that was approved less than a year ago with broad bipartisan support.

They include a petition from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration that asks the state Supreme Court to allow for mailed ballots to be counted that arrive up to three days after election day.

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“It is encouraging that the court saw fit to grant our motion to defer a case that centered on state law to be resolved by state courts rather than empower Donald Trump in his efforts to steal the general election,” state Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia and vice chair of the state Democratic Party said in a statement.

After Republicans filed their lawsuit earlier this summer, Democrats filed a countersuit asking for a federal judge to uphold the use of ballot drop off boxes.

Such boxes were used in both red and blue counties to allow voters to drop off ballots in person. Some counties, such as Dauphin County, placed one outside their county courthouse. Others, such as Philadelphia, placed multiple boxes throughout the city.

The Trump campaign case is part of a multi-million dollar legal assault on voting amid the president’s reelection campaign, that has included at least 10 states, according to the Washington Post.

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About 1.5 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail in the June primary amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.