Trump campaign sues to stop Pennsylvania certifying Biden win

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Trump and Biden supporters gathered at the ballot counting centre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Trump and Biden supporters gathered at the ballot counting centre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Im
  • In a new lawsuit filed, the campaign of US President Donald Trump sued Pennsylvania’s secretary of state Kathy Boockvar.
  • The Trump campaign is asking the court to issue an emergency order stopping election officials from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state.
  • The Trump campaign has made unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud and launched legal challenges in several key battleground states.


In a new lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania on Monday, the campaign of United States President Donald Trump sued Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, and a handful of county boards of elections, alleging they had run an unfair election in the state.

The Trump campaign is asking the court to issue an emergency order stopping election officials from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state, and a permanent injunction requiring county election boards to invalidate ballots that were allowed to be “cured”.

“Curing” a ballot is a completely legal process; if a voter sends their mail ballot without a secrecy envelope or signature, an official calls to tell them they are allowed to vote by provisional ballot.

Trump has refused to concede defeat in the US presidential election, even though Biden declared victory on Saturday after US media networks projected him as the winner. The Trump campaign has made unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud and launched legal challenges in several key battleground states.

What are the allegations?

In Monday’s lawsuit in Pennsylvania, the campaign alleged three main issues with the election: a lack of transparency, the unequal “curing” of ballots, and concerns about mail-in ballots received after Election Day on 3 November.

The campaign alleged Republican poll watchers had “no meaningful access” to review ballots. The lawsuit says poll watchers were in the room, but too far away to see ballot counting. The campaign says an unmonitored election can result in fraud. However, a Pennsylvania court ruled that poll watchers could be within six feet of ballot counting, and a Trump campaign lawyer admitted in court that there was “a non-zero number of people in the room”.

The campaign also raised concerns about the “curing” of ballots. Before Election Day, some counties reviewed mail ballots to see if they lacked the required secrecy envelopes or signatures, and then notified those voters to allow them to cast provisional ballots on Election Day in a legal process known as “curing”.

The campaign alleges “curing” was allowed in Democratic-leaning counties and not in Republican-leaning counties, raising alleged equal protection violations. However, as election law expert Rebecca Green previously told Al Jazeera, this equal protection violation argument will run up against the fact that voting in America is “incredibly decentralised” and voters are subjected to different rules depending on their location.

Depending on the polling location, the campaign alleges some voters were not informed of their right to spoil their mail ballots and vote in-person or vote by provisional ballot. Secretary of state Kathy Boockvar has previously said this was not intentional; in the first election to ever deal with such a high volume of mail ballots, some poll workers were confused about the rules.

Boockvar allowed mail ballots postmarked on Election Day but received up to three days later to be counted. The campaign has alleged she did not have the authority to make that rule, however, the US Supreme Court refused to intervene before Election Day, allowing the rule to stand. In its new filing, the campaign alleged without evidence that officials counted some mail ballots that were not postmarked.

The only allegations of “fraud” in Monday’s Trump campaign lawsuit affected fewer than a dozen votes. The Trump campaign said there were two Pennsylvania counties with suspected instanced of mail ballot fraud; in Fayette County, two voters received ballots that were already filled out, and in September 2020, officials in Luzerne County found an election worker had thrown out nine military ballots. Of those nine, seven were votes for Trump. The election worker who discarded the ballots was removed from service.

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