Nov. 17 (UPI) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed the Trump campaign another loss in its litigious efforts to overturn election results on Tuesday by ruling officials in Philadelphia did not prevent observers from overseeing the counting of ballots.
In the hearing before U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pa., attorneys for President Donald Trump sought to halt Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar from certifying Biden as the winner of the state’s 20 electoral votes.
The Republicans argued designated watchers were kept too far from ballot counters at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia to meaningfully observe the process. The case was brought to the state’s supreme court after it was thrown out by a lower court but later approved in appeal.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that campaign representatives were not deprived of the ability to observe the counting process, as the Trump campaign had argued, citing testimony from its own witness who said he was able to observe the entire canvassing process.
The Republican observer, attorney Jeremy Mercer, said that he could not view specific declarations on the ballot envelopes nor examine individual envelopes for improper markings, but the Supreme Court said that would only matter if he were challenging specific ballots, which is not permissible under the Election Code.
“His concerns pertained to his inability to observe the writing on the outside of the ballots. Given that observers are directed only to observe and not to audit ballots, we conclude, based on the witness’s testimony, that the Board of Elections has complied with the observation requirements,” Justice Debra Todd wrote in the 20-page opinion.
The court said state laws require candidate’s authorized representatives to be “in the room while the ballots are being pre-canvassed or canvassed,” requirements which local election officials met despite the Trump campaign arguing it met for “meaningful observation.”
The Supreme Court made its decision despite the Trump campaign enlisting the president’s personal lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to argue its cases after being denied late Monday from delaying the hearing because its entire legal team had dropped out.
In a filing, two Texas attorneys who joined the case last week — John Scott and Douglas Hughes — were allowed by Brann to quit as representatives of the campaign. Harrisburg, Pa., attorney and conservative talk radio host Marc Scaringi is now the sole attorney in the case.
The departing attorneys only entered the case after the law firm that had previously represented the Trump campaign, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, had also withdrawn.
The attorneys’ withdrawal came after the suit was amended Sunday to drop many of the initial accusations questioning about 700,000 ballots and the vote counting process in the state.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Giuliani argued that the situation at the Pennsylvania Convention Center is part of a “widespread, nationwide voter fraud.”
“This is part of the reason I’m here, your Honor, because it’s not an isolated case,” he said, as he argued for hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots be invalidated over observers being denied meaningful observation.
He said this fraud was occurring in Democratically control big cities, stating, “you’d be a fool to see this as an accident.”
Attorney Mark Aronchick, who represented some of the election boards in the case, told the judge to “dismiss this case” as Giuliani was speaking of “some fantasy world.”
“This is just disgraceful,” he said.
Pennsylvania has until Nov. 23 to certify its votes statewide.
Tuesday’s hearing follows other setbacks for the campaign’s legal efforts.
On Monday, Republican voters who had filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, as well as Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan, to challenge the legality of some ballots withdrew their complaints.
All four suits had all been backed by conservative attorney James Bopp, Jr.
In Wayne County, Mich., election officials certified results late Tuesday after having been deadlocked earlier in the evening.
“Trump’s legal path to overturn the election results appears 100% dead,” election expert Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote on his blog.
Even if the Trump campaign succeeds in its case Tuesday, Hasen told USA Today that the complaint doesn’t involve enough ballots to overtake Biden’s margin of victory in Pennsylvania, which will award him 20 key electoral votes.