The Trump Campaign filed a complaint stating Pennsylvania Secretary of State Boockvar (D) and numerous Boards of Elections failed to maintain the integrity of the 2020 US election and openly violated rules and procedures. They made multiple claims including lack of transparency and disparate treatment of voters based on their choice of ballot or the county in which they vote. For example, Plaintiffs claim that more than 680,000 mail-in and absentee ballots in two counties were received and processed without political party review. Meaningful access to observe vote counting and processing was denied, despite a court order requiring such transparency. Mail-in ballots in Democratic counties were pre-canvassed (in violation of PA laws), and where ballots were deficient, the voter was contacted and permitted to cure. However, no such unlawful pre-canvassing and curing took place in Republican counties. Election Day violations are also outlined in this complaint. Because Plaintiffs believed there was no remedy to this multi-faceted problem, they asked for the extreme remedy that Pennsylvania votes, or a subset thereof, not be certified.
After Secretary Boockvar moved to dismiss the complaint, the Trump Campaign filed its first Amended complaint, dropping several of the original claims and seeking an injunction to block certifying the election results. Defendant Boockvar filed another motion to dismiss. After the second motion to dismiss, the District Court denied the Trump Campaign a second amended complaint, stating there had been an undue delay. The second amended complaint would have resurrected the dropped original claims and added three more regarding Philadelphia County blocking poll watchers.
On 11/21, District Judge Brann issued his opinion rejecting the Trump Campaign’s allegations of potential fraud and remedy that all the state’s votes be discarded. He said there were not enough “compelling legal arguments” or “factual proof of rampant corruption” to warrant eliminating almost seven million votes. On November 22, the Trump Campaign filed an appeal to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to delay Pennsylvania’s November 23 vote certification which would give Joe Biden an 80,000 vote lead and award him Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes. The appeal was granted for expedited review of the lower court’s ruling to dismiss the case. The Trump Campaign filed a very narrow appeal, seeking only to overturn the lower court’s decision to not permit their filing of the second amended complaint. The Trump Campaign also sought an injunction against certifying the vote results.
On November 27, Circuit Judge Bibas began his opinion by minimizing the Trump Campaign’s allegations of misconduct and then moved quickly to discuss whether the lower court had abused its discretion by not accepting the second amended complaint. He wrote that the lower court was correct to disallow the second amended complaint because it would have been a futile attempt to repackage issues of state law as unconstitutional discrimination. Additionally, the opinion noted that the number of challenged ballots was not enough to overcome Joe Biden’s margin without alleging and proving fraud, so Circuit Judge Bibas also denied the injunction to undo Pennsylvania’s certification, pending an appeal.