Federal Court Blocks Trump Campaign Efforts to Remove Ballot Drop Boxes in Pennsylvania

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PITTSBURGH — A federal court today ruled against the Trump campaign’s bid to remove ballot drop boxes in Pennsylvania.

In addition, the court rebuffed the Trump campaign’s effort to require signature matching for mailed ballots or overturn the state’s county-residency requirement for poll watchers; and declined to permit campaign poll watchers at drop boxes.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Pennsylvania, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Public Interest Law Center, and firm WilmerHale had challenged the Trump campaign’s attempts.

The case was brought on behalf of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, Common Cause Pennsylvania, and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

The following reactions are from:

Witold Walczak, legal director, ACLU of Pennsylvania: “A federal judge gave the Trump campaign every opportunity to put forward their strongest case and today found that they produced no credible evidence of fraud, failed to identify any voters who were injured, and did not show that the Pennsylvania Department of State was running the elections unconstitutionally. The Trump campaign should trust voters and let them vote.”

Kenneth Huston, president, NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference: “Voter suppression has always been a tactic used to attempt to discourage or prevent certain voters from exercising their right to vote. With the pandemic still a major dynamic in voting, I am very pleased to hear the decision of U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranja in dismissing the lawsuit with all of its challenges by President Trump’s campaign. Let’s do whatever we can to protect and encourage all to prepare to get out and vote.”

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP: “In a time when we are faced with substantial obstacles, drop boxes make it possible and safe for voters to engage in their constitutional right. We are pleased with this outcome that grants people more than one option to exercise their civic duty.”

Sarah Brannon, managing attorney, ACLU’s Voting Rights Project: “The court recognized the gravity of the Trump campaign’s depraved attempt to undermine mail-in voting and put Pennsylvanians at risk in the middle of a deadly pandemic. This ruling is a huge victory for voters.”

Suzanne Almeida, interim executive director, Common Cause Pennsylvania: “Our government ‘by the people’ is stronger when more people are able to participate by voting. Today’s decision is a ‘win’ for voters — and for a government ‘by the people’ — because it ensures Pennsylvania’s voters have clear choices about how to vote during this pandemic. People will be able to vote in-person on Election Day, vote-by-mail, or deposit their voted ballot in a drop box. Drop boxes are particularly important for voters who may not receive their mail ballots in time to mail them back. Voting is using your voice and we’re delighted voters have this option to be heard this election.”

Ben Geffen, attorney, Public Interest Law Center: “Today, the court recognized what Pennsylvania law, the experience of voters in other states, and the evidence in this case made clear: drop boxes are a safe and secure tool for voters to return their mail ballots to election officials. Now, our partners and our clients will work to ensure that Pennsylvania voters are informed of all of their options and that our election on November 3 is orderly, free, and equal.”

Terrie Griffin, co-president, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania: “The League joined this case to represent the interests of voters, many of whom will rely on nearby ballot drop boxes to return their ballots this year. When adequately placed in densely populated communities, drop boxes ensure voters can hand deliver their ballots safely, with assurance that they will be counted. It is unconscionable to consider limiting drop boxes during a deadly pandemic, when the focus should be on expanding safe voting options — not restricting them further.”

Dr. Deborah Turner, president, board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States: “Today’s decision is a huge victory in the defense of voting rights. This case sought to limit safe, secure voter access in a high-interest election year during a deadly global pandemic. We are grateful that this nonsensical voter suppression attempt was halted in Pennsylvania today, and we are proud to stand up for voters’ rights whenever and wherever they are threatened.”

John Powers, attorney, Voting Rights Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: “This is a major victory for voters across Pennsylvania, particularly Black and Latino voters who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. This ruling is especially timely on the heels of questionable poll-watching activity in Philadelphia, which underscores the need to reign in outsider intimidation efforts.”

Read today’s opinion here.