The flawed, fractured and possibly inaccurate spectacle of ballot-counting to which Americans have been treated as Pennsylvania became the focus of the 2020 election deserves all the challenges President Donald Trump is throwing at it, according to a group of Republican attorneys general.
Democrat Joe Biden has been declared the winner in Pennsylvania, but the Trump campaign is raising serious questions about how the votes were counted. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, on Sunday said the number of challenged ballots is so high that it could flip the results.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito last week ordered state officials to keep separate ballots received at Pennsylvania elections offices after the polls closed.
With that as the backdrop, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Trump campaign’s effort to ensure that mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day are not counted.
Schmitt was joined by the Republican attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.
Trump’s campaign is suing to overturn a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision allowing mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to count, as long as they arrived by Friday.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision overstepped its constitutional authority and encroached on the authority granted to the Pennsylvania legislature,” the filing argued.
The attorneys general trying to block the late ballots from being counted argued that “the decision exacerbated the risk of mail-in ballot fraud by permitting mail-in ballots that are not postmarked or have no legible postmark to be received and counted several days after the election.”
“The decision provided a window of time after Election Day, when the preliminary results were announced, in which unscrupulous actors could attempt to influence a close Presidential election in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. And it enhanced the opportunities for fraud by requiring boards of elections to count late-received ballots even if there is no evidence that those ballots were cast before Election Day, because they have no legible postmark,” the filing said.
The Pennsylvania court’s ruling “raises two concerns about illegal voting. First, ballots cast outside the clear and unambiguous rules established by the Pennsylvania legislature are illegal. Second, by exacerbating the risks of fraud, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision raises the specter of late voting that is not just illegal, but outright fraudulent,” Schmitt and his allies argued.
The attorneys general said that they have a right to intervene because “States outside Pennsylvania have a strong interest in preventing the effective invalidation of their own voters’ choices through illegal voting in Pennsylvania.”
The filing raised two issues. One was that the court stepped beyond its jurisdiction. The filing said that such a decision belonged to the state’s General Assembly, not the court.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision overstepped its constitutional authority and encroached on the authority granted to the Pennsylvania legislature,” the filing read.
The PA leg decided to allow mail in voting ONLY if ballots were received by Election Day. The PA Ct rewrote the law to allow ballots to be counted days AFTER the election & not even postmarked. We’re asking #SCOTUS to take the case & reverse. Legislatures set rules for elections
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) November 9, 2020
The broader issue was that the decision “exacerbated the risks fraud and abuse in mail-in voting in Pennsylvania.”
“First, it created a post-election window of time during which nefarious actors could wait and see whether the Presidential election would be close, and whether perpetrating fraud in Pennsylvania would be worthwhile,” the filing said.
“Second, it enhanced the opportunities for fraud by mandating, in a cursory footnote, that late ballots must be counted even when they are not postmarked or have no legible postmark, and thus there is no evidence they were mailed by Election Day. This decision created needless vulnerability to actual fraud and undermined public confidence in a Presidential election,” the filing said.
The attorneys general noted the extensive history of voter fraud using mail-in ballots.
“For decades, responsible observers have cautioned about the grave risks of fraud in voting by mail,” the filing said, adding, “Overwhelming public evidence demonstrates that voting by mail presents unique opportunities for fraud and abuse.”
It concluded that “fraud in voting by mail frequently involves the interception, alteration, and fraudulent submission of absentee or mail-in ballots.”
“Many such schemes have occurred in recent years, and … have evaded detection over multiple election cycles,” the filing said. “It is unknown how many such schemes may simply go undetected permanently.
“The Pennsylvania court’s decision, therefore, needlessly exacerbated the risk of fraudulent voting.”
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