PA Appeals Judge Sides With Trump: Segregated Ballots Can't Be Counted

P. Gardner Goldsmith | November 13, 2020

In a towering victory for Donald Trump’s vote integrity team, Mary Hannah Leavitt, the President Judge of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, yesterday issued an order enjoining the Boards of Elections of nearly all PA counties, and stopping Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, from counting any segregated ballots in the state’s November 5 elections.

As an appellate court just below the state Supreme Court, this not only smacks down Boockvar’s shocking claim that she would “count every ballot” (even as Americans in and out of Pennsylvania raised monumental questions about the integrity of many of those ballots), it also means that, should Boockvar not comply with the order, the case likely could get to the U.S. Supreme Court before the state's deadline of November 23 to “certify” the vote.

The key here comes in a clearly questionable state Supreme Court ruling saying that ballots there could be “accepted” within three days after an actual Election Day concluded. That ruling appears to have prompted Boockvar to reinterpret state law regarding “fixing” ballots. The DailyCaller’s Jordan Lancaster explains:

Under Pennsylvania state law, if a ballot is lacking proof of identification, voters have until six days after the election – November 9 – to fix it so that their ballot can be counted. Once the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that ballots could be accepted up to three days after election day, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar issued guidance saying that a ballot lacking proof of identification could be fixed up to six days after the deadline to accept ballots, Fox News reported.

This means there is a major difference between the actual statute and Boockvar’s position, which means Boockvar is not in a good position to prevail in any court containing judges who honestly read the statute.

And it means that the vote numbers from Pennsylvania -- a state that saw a sudden surge in late Biden votes after Donald Trump appeared to score a huge margin on election night -- could be brought to the U.S. Supreme Court, where, folks interested in a proper reading of statutes might speculate, the majority of Justices would, again, serve Boockvar a resounding defeat.

As Ronn Blitzer reports for FoxNews:

The court had previously ordered that all ballots where voters provided proof of identification between Nov. 10 and 12 should be segregated until a ruling was issued determining what should be done with them.

On Thursday, Leavitt ruled that those ballots shall not be counted.”

Specifically, Judge Leavitt wrote:

[T]he Court concludes that Respondent Kathy Boockvar, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth, lacked statutory authority to issue the November 1, 2020, guidance to Respondents County Boards of Elections insofar as that guidance purported to change the deadline … for certain electors to verify proof of identification... 

The situation is fluid. The statute is clear. The stakes, of course, are high.

And the clock is ticking.