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Pennsylvania Judge Grants GOP Request to Halt Certification of Election Results

GOP litigants in the case argued that changes to the state’s absentee ballot law made last year were unconstitutional.

A return board member files a ballot after it was double checked at the Allegheny County Elections Warehouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 6, 2020.

A judge in Pennsylvania halted on Wednesday the presidential election certification process for that state, even though results had already been certified by officials earlier in the week.

The certified vote count issued on Tuesday showed that President-elect Joe Biden had defeated President Donald Trump by a margin of 80,555 votes. If left intact, Biden would be awarded all of Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough sided with GOP litigants in a lawsuit against the state, however, agreeing with them that the certification process should be stopped. Led by Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania), Republicans alleged that changes to the state’s mail-in voting law were unconstitutional, and therefore the certification of the election should be halted in order to determine which ballots should or should not be counted in the state’s totals.

Certification can be stopped, Republicans further argued, even though officials had signed off on it the day before, because a number of steps remained before the state’s certification would be formally completed.

McCullough, herself a Republican, said the process should be stopped for the time being “to the extent that there remains any further action to perfect the certification of the results of the 2020 General Election.” The judge set an evidentiary hearing for 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

The changes to Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot law, signed as Act 77 last year by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, allowed for voters to request absentee ballots without having to provide an excuse to do so. In short, the law granted anyone the right to vote absentee, not just those who are elderly, out of town, or otherwise unable to vote in person. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Pennsylvanians voted by mail in this year’s elections.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, immediately appealed McCullough’s decision to the State Supreme Court, stating that the litigants “had not offered any explanation, let alone a satisfactory one, for why they delayed bringing their challenge until more than a year (and two elections) after” the law affecting absentee voting was changed.

Trump and his allies have filed a number of lawsuits alleging, without proof, that absentee ballots and mail-in votes in this year’s election were rife with fraud. So far, nearly all of those lawsuits have failed.

On Wednesday, Republicans in Pennsylvania held what they were billing as a “hearing” in Gettysburg to discuss supposed election fraud. Trump did not appear in person at the event, but did speak via speakerphone before those in attendance.

Trump claimed, without evidence, that the state’s results were inaccurate, saying without proof of any kind and in the face of Biden’s 80,000-vote lead, that Pennsylvania was “lost by Democrats.” Trump also suggested that things could be changed in his favor if they found a judge in the state to overturn the will of the electorate.

“All we need is for some judge to listen to it properly,” Trump said.

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