Pennsylvania Federal Judge Defiantly Rebuffs Trump’s Voter Sabotage

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A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by the Trump campaign against expanded access to voting options in the state of Pennsylvania. Specifically, the Trump campaign had sought to get a court to block the usage of drop boxes for mail-in ballots in the state, and they also wanted to compel authorities to match the signatures on submitted mail-in ballots to the signatures on the respective voters’ registration records. The campaign also wanted poll watchers to be allowed to serve at polling locations that weren’t in their home communities, which sounds like a potential veiled attempt to obtain judicial permission for voter intimidation. It’s all been thrown out.

Federal Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan of the Western District of Pennsylvania, who has been handling the federal court case that the Trump campaign brought and was actually appointed by Donald Trump himself, dismissed the Trump campaign’s lawsuit on the basis of the fact that they’d failed to substantively prove that there’s some looming threat of fraud accompanying mail-in voting in the state. Speculation isn’t enough to move a lawsuit forward! Neither is speculation enough to get the judiciary to force a rewrite of state election rules in the service of some dubiously defined notion of security that would benefit the president if enacted. Because of their high usages of the mail-in/absentee balloting system, marginalized communities and Democratic voters may be the populations most affected by restrictions on voting through means other than in-person polling places.

Ranjan had previously ordered the Trump campaign to produce any evidence that they had indicating any fraud that had accompanied the election procedures that they were challenging when those same procedures were used in the state’s primary elections earlier this year. The Trump campaign produced no evidence, and they claimed that they should not have even been required to produce any evidence of past election fraud in the first place.

In his new ruling, Ranjan countered:

‘While Plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove that such fraud is ‘certainly impending.’ They haven’t met that burden. At most, they have pieced together a sequence of uncertain assumptions.’

That’s how a federal judge describes some of the Trump campaign’s claims about the potential for fraudulent mail-in ballots — a “sequence of uncertain assumptions,” at best. These assumptions are part of an ongoing nationwide Republican campaign against mail-in voting. There have already been a slew of lawsuits around the country. A recent “review by The Washington Post of dozens of lawsuits around the country found that judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats alike have been dubious of GOP arguments that lowering barriers to mail voting could lead to widespread fraud,” that paper reported.

These baseless claims could have real-world consequences. Besides their usage as fuel for lawsuits meant to curtail access to voting, the president himself has already suggested that he may not accept the election results if he loses. These baseless fraud claims could be used as an excuse for him to desperately cling to power.