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Yet Another Legal Loss for Trump as Pennsylvania Supreme Court Finds No Fault With Philly Observer Placement

The court found that Philadelphia election officials "did not act contrary to law in fashioning its regulations governing the positioning of candidate representatives during the precanvassing and canvassing process." 

Protesters outside the White House in Washington, D.C. on November 13, 2020 let President Donald Trump know what they think of him. (Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

Demonstrators outside the White House in Washington, D.C. on November 13, 2020 have a resounding message for soon-to-be ex-President Donald Trump: "You're fired, loser!" (Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images) 

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.

"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."

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. 

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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.

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." 

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