Trump campaign drops major part of Pennsylvania vote challenge

President Donald Trump has dropped a major part of his lawsuit to challenge his electoral loss in Pennsylvania, even as he continues to refuse to concede to President-elect Joe Biden.

In an amended complaint filed in federal court, the Trump campaign omitted a claim that election officials illegally processed hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots – 682,479, to be precise – by unlawfully blocking observers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

The pared-down lawsuit now focuses on a claim that Democratic-leaning counties unlawfully allowed voters to fix errors in their mail-in ballots in violation of state law. 

The lawsuit charges that "Democratic-heavy counties" violated the law by identifying mail-in ballots before Election Day that had defects such as lacking an inner "secrecy envelope" or lacking a voter’s signature on the outside envelope so that the voter could fix it and ensure that their vote would count, called "curing".

Cliff Levine, a lawyer representing the Democratic National Committee, which is seeking to intervene, said it isn’t clear how many voters were given the chance to fix their ballot.

But, he said, it is minimal and certainly fewer than the margin – almost 70,000  – that separates Biden and Trump.

"The numbers aren’t even close to the margin between the two candidates, not even close," Levine said.

In Pennsylvania’s populous Montgomery County, less than 100 voters fixed ballots with technical errors, a county official testified at a court hearing on Nov. 4.

In any case, there is no provision in state law preventing counties from helping voters to fix a ballot that contains a technical deficiency. Levine said the lawsuit does not contain any allegation that somebody voted illegally.

Pennsylvania officials have asked a judge to toss Trump’s lawsuit out.

The Trump campaign continues to seek a court order blocking the Pennsylvania secretary of state from ratifying the result, however.

More than 2.6 million mail-in ballots were reported received in Pennsylvania’s counties, and there has been no report by state or county election officials or a prosecutor of fraud or any other problem with the accuracy of the count.

The Trump campaign’s claims of fraudulent voting practices have so far been found to be baseless. Last week, US officials said the election was “the most secure” in the country’s history.

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