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Pennsylvania Appellate Judge Hands Trump Campaign Extremely Small Legal Victory


Following a torrent of swift and sometimes embarrassing court moments over the last week, a Pennsylvania appellate judge on Thursday handed the Trump campaign a legal victory in the state, albeit a minor one, ruling that election officials cannot include a small portion of mail-in ballots in the state’s total vote tabulation.

In a brief two-page order, Commonwealth Court President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar exceeded her authority when she pushed back the deadline—from Nov. 9 to Nov. 12—for voters to cure problems with their ballots stemming from lack of proof of identification. Boockvar, a Democrat, moved the deadline two days prior to the election, citing a state supreme court decision allowing mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day to be counted.

“[T]he Court concludes that Respondent Kathy Boockvar, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth, lacked statutory authority to issue the November 1, 2020, guidance to Respondents County Boards of Elections insofar as that guidance purported to change the deadline […] for certain electors to verify proof of identification,” Leavitt, a Republican, wrote in the court order. “Accordingly, the Court hereby ORDERS that Respondents County Boards of Elections are enjoined from counting any ballots that have been segregated pursuant to paragraph 1 of this Court’s order.”

While the ruling is a welcome change for the Trump campaign, who filed the initial complaint along with the Republican National Committee, the ballots that are subject to the order have not yet been counted towards the state’s reported vote total and will likely not affect a significant number of ballots.

“Here’s the deal: Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania is over 54,000,” University of Kentucky College of Law professor Joshua A. Douglas wrote in an email to Law&Crime. “There’s surely nowhere near that number of ballots subject to this decision to make up that kind of lead.”

The Trump campaign is scheduled to return to court on Friday for a hearing in a separate legal challenge in Pennsylvania, where the president’s legal team will attempt to get ballots tossed out, claiming they lacked required information and were improperly counted.

Read the full ruling below:

PA Ballot Court Order by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Image]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.