The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a claim by President Donald Trump's campaign alleging Republican election observers were barred from adequately monitoring ballot counting in Philadelphia during the 2020 general election.
In a 5-2 ruling (pdf), the state high court found that the GOP observers could sufficiently watch ballots being counted in the nation's sixth-largest city, and that the Trump campaign's claim that the Philadelphia Board of Elections denied it "meaningful access" to the process was without merit. The campaign claimed it was kept so far back behind a waist-high fence that its observers could not make out key details on ballot envelopes or see if proper vote-counting procedures were followed.
Breaking: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected the Trump campaign's claim that Republicans lacked access to Philadelphia's vote count proceedings. The ruling was 5-2 against the campaign.https://t.co/tdNwajyk0Q
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 17, 2020
"We conclude the board did not act contrary to law in fashioning its regulations governing the positioning of candidate representatives during the precanvassing and canvassing process," the court wrote in its majority opinion. "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."
BREAKING: PENNSYLVANIA Supreme Court rules 5-2 AGAINST Trump campaign
Majority says Philly Bd of Elections' canvassing observation protocol was lawful pic.twitter.com/tgQgb79F3U
— John Kruzel (@johnkruzel) November 17, 2020
The only reason why two justices—including Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor—voted against the majority is because they believe the case is moot given Trump's resounding 306-232 Electoral College thrashing.
The decision was 5–2 because two justices wouldn't have even decided the case, preferring to rule that it is moot. The principal dissent also explicitly says that throwing out valid ballots would not be an appropriate remedy anyway. This is a total loss for the Trump campaign. https://t.co/BYJ1xThkxQ
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) November 17, 2020
The ruling noted that while state law requires observers be allowed "in the room" as votes are tallied, it is up to county election officials to determine how far from the counting tables they must stand.
The justices' decision overturns a lower state court's ruling in Trump's favor that permitted campaign observers to stand within six feet of the tables where ballots were being counted.
Tuesday's decision marks the latest failed attempt by the losing Trump campaign to find some way, any way, to challenge the results of an election process that the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency—created by Trump in 2018—called "the most secure in American history." Tuesday evening, Trump fired the head of that agency, Christopher Krebs, for what the president called his "highly inaccurate" statement regarding the election.
TRUMP LEGAL TEAM POST-ELECTION RECORD
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) November 17, 2020
Nevertheless, Trump attorney Rudy Guiliani argued Tuesday in a separate case in a Williamsport, Pennsylvania federal court that GOP observers in Philadelphia were prevented from doing their job by "the Democratic machine." The former New York City mayor also repeated the baseless claim that what happened in Philadelphia was part of "widespread nationwide voter fraud."