•Wins appeal to observe Pennsylvania vote count
Martins Ifijeh in New Jersey, USA
As the final results of Tuesday’s United States presidential election are still being awaited in five states to decide who wins between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, two courts yesterday dismissed lawsuits by Trump seeking to truncate the process.
While Judge of Chatham County Superior Court in Georgia, James Bass, dismissed a lawsuit by Trump asking him to declare that state laws on processing absentee ballots be used in Coastal County vote count, Judge Cynthia Stephens of a Michigan court dismissed a lawsuit asking that vote counting in the state is halted.
But in Pennsylvania, a commonwealth court granted him access to closely observe vote count in the state following an appeal he filed earlier today on the restriction of access to the vote-counting area.
Bass, while dismissing Trump’s prayers during the one-hour hearing, did not provide an explanation for his decision. The county includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah.
The suit had raised concerns about 53 absentee ballots that poll observers said were not part of an original batch of ballots. County election officials testified that all 53 ballots had been received on time.
Trump, however, got relief in Pennsylvania following the commonwealth court’s order that he be allowed to closely observe vote count in the state.
In Michigan, Trump had told the court that the Republican Party does not have access to the handling of absentee ballots and that ‘surprising’ votes were been credited to the Democratic Party.
But the judge said the lawsuit was filed late Wednesday afternoon – just hours before the last ballots were counted – and that the defendant, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was the wrong person to sue because she doesn’t control the logistics of local ballot counting, even if she is the state’s chief election officer.
Democrat Joe Biden has won in Michigan, a state Trump won in 2016. The state has 16 Electoral College votes.
The lawsuit claimed Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers. She was accused of undermining the constitutional right of all Michigan voters to participate in fair and lawful elections.
Benson, through state attorneys, denied the allegations.
The five states where final results are still being awaited are Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania, which has 20 Electoral College votes, is one of the five states where votes are still been counted.
With 264 Electoral College votes in the bag, Biden needs only six more to emerge the 46th president of the US. Trump is currently on 214 Electoral College votes and banks on Pennsylvania and the remaining four states to win the contest.
The court said: “Upon review of arguments contained in the brief submitted by Donald Trump, the Philadelphia Country Board of Elections and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, it is hereby ordered that the November 4 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County denying appellant’s oral motion to allow closer observation of the canvassing of ballots is reversed.
“Effective immediately, the court requires all candidates, watchers or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process.”
It, however, warned that while observing the process, social distancing and wearing of masks must be adhered to due to COVID-19 pandemic.
In a tweet, Trump described the development as a big legal win for his election bid.