Trump campaign seeks to limit voting in Pennsylvania
Trump seeks to block Pennsylvania counties from using drop boxes to collect mail-in ballots as November election nears.
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President Donald Trump is continuing his efforts to cast doubt on the safety of mail-in voting as well as making it harder for voters to do so.
Postal voting is an alternative many Americans will have to choose this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to a poll conducted by Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape project, 37% of registered voters are likely to vote by mail.
In the same poll, it showed that 48% of people who plan on voting for Democratic nominee Joe Biden are likely to vote by mail, which is more than double of Trump supporters, who stand at 23%.
Biden was born in Scranton, PA and served as the Senator of Delaware, a bordering state, for 36 years. His 2020 presidential campaign headquarters is located in Philadelphia.
In 2016, Trump carried the state by 0.7%, which was an unexpected flip since the Keystone state had not elected a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. in 1988.
With Pennsylvania being a 2020 battleground state, the Trump campaign has targeted their mail-in voting process by filing a lawsuit against Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar.
They are suing to block the widespread use of official ballot drop boxes, except for at election offices, and for the state to allow poll watchers to operate in counties other than the ones they live in.
If the lawsuit were successful, every voter would have to individually drop their ballot off at their county board of elections, since ballots cannot be sent in bulk according to Pennsylvania state law.
The poll watchers would also be allowed to question the eligibility of voters on election day.
A recent Muhlenberg College poll shows former Vice President Biden leading Trump by four points in the Keystone state.
Pennsylvania has a long history of postal voting, they were the only state to grant absentee voting rights to soldiers before the Civil War.
Governor Tom Wolf signing Act 17 of 2019 also expanded the state’s mail-in voting program with voters no longer needing to provide a reason to request a mail-in ballot and they have the option of being placed on a permanent mail-in or absentee ballot list.
On Sunday, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Ranjan — a Trump appointee — ruled that the president’s lawsuit should be stalled until state courts interpret the statues.
“After carefully considering the arguments raised by the parties, the Court finds that the appropriate course is abstention, at least for the time being. In other words, the Court will apply the brakes to this lawsuit, and allow the Pennsylvania state courts to weigh in and interpret the state statutes that undergird Plaintiffs' federal- constitutional claims," Ranjan wrote.
It was also stated that the Trump campaign could ask to revive the case if the state matters take too long.
They were ordered to provide evidence to solidify their claim that Pennsylvania’s plan to have the general election be mostly conducted by mail will lead to voter fraud.
The campaign provided nearly 300 documents, but American Civil Liberties Union said that none of them linked electoral fraud with drop boxes.
A case of voter fraud from Philadelphia did make national headlines in May, but it was not related to drop boxes.
A judge of elections admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to inflate vote totals of several Democratic candidates who ran from 2014-2016. In each year, his votes accounted for over 15% of his division’s total.
Even if Trump is unsuccessful with his Pennsylvania lawsuit, he has found other ways to suppress the vote in the state.
The new U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, longtime Trump and Republican party donor with no prior experience in postal matters, has removed thousands of mail sorting machines from various cities without explanation.
Philadelphia is one the nation’s worst examples as their sorting capacity has gone down by 310,000 pieces of mail per hour.
When questioned during a Senate hearing as to whether the machines will be returning before election day, DeJoy said that they were not needed and that he has “no intention” of doing that.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro was joined by five states and Washington D.C. in filing a lawsuit against the United States Postal Service on Friday over mail delays caused by the lack of sorting machines and other tactics like cutting transportation and overtime costs.
“The structural changes that DeJoy and his cronies made back in July slowed down the mail by altering the way the shifts work. And as a result of that we’ve got veterans here in Pennsylvania who aren’t getting their prescriptions on time and they’re spoiling in the mail. We’ve got small businesses who are really struggling because they are not getting their mail on time,” Shapiro said.
The lawsuit also argues that the new policies should not have gone into effect because they did not first go through the Postal Regulatory Commission as is required by federal law.
Democrats in the House of Representatives have tried to combat the changes implemented by the Postmaster General by passing a bill worth $25 billion to both fund the USPS and reserve all policies that led to mail delays, including restoring mail sorting machines.
The “Delivering for America Act” passed mainly along partisan lines on Saturday, but 26 Republicans did vote in favor of the legislation.
The only problem is that the president has already vowed to veto it, further politicizing the postal service.
“Now they [Democrats] need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots, if we don’t make a deal that means they don’t get the money,” Trump said.