A Pennsylvania appellate court sided with President Donald Trump on Thursday when a Commonwealth Court judge ruled that a small number of ballots from people who hadn’t presented identification by the Monday deadline, would be thrown out.
Two days before the election, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar decided to push back the date by which voters had to have their identification validated against state records.
But Commonwealth Court President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt has ruled that Boockvar didn’t have the authority to do so. Boockvar had reasoned that since the state Supreme Court had extended the deadline for late ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 by three days, voter ID deadlines should be extended too. It’s not clear how many votes will be tossed out as a result of the reversal.
The provision applied only to first-time voters whose identities had not been confirmed before the Nov. 9 deadline, and extended the deadline until Nov. 12.
In Philadelphia, there are about 2,100 mail-in ballots in jeopardy of disqualification because proof of ID had not been presented.
Although the court decision is a minor victory for the Trump campaign in its ongoing legal challenge of the election results, it won’t impact the outcome of the election, as none of the votes affected by the ruling was included in Pennsylvania’s official vote count. President-elect Joe Biden held a nearly 60,000-vote lead over Trump in the state by Friday afternoon.
The Trump campaign’s chief legal counsel, Matt Morgan acknowledged that the lawsuits filed are unlikely to sway the outcome of the election, but hopes small victories could trigger an automatic recount if Biden’s lead — which reached 0.87 percent by Friday — is reduced to 0.5 percent or less.
The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee filed the suit last week, challenging Boockvar’s extension.
Boockvar did not respond to Thursday’s ruling, but her attorneys said she is preparing to certify the state’s election results.
The decision may be appealed to the state Supreme Court.