HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that it is suing to temporarily stop the vote count in Pennsylvania, claiming lack of “transparency.”
Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement that the campaign is “suing to stop Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers.” He said the campaign wants “to temporarily halt counting until there is meaningful transparency and Republicans can ensure all counting is done above board and by the law.”
Clark also said the campaign would seek to intervene in an ongoing Supreme Court case involving the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots.
There have been no reports of fraud or any type of ballot concerns out of Pennsylvania. The state had more than 3.1 million mail-in ballots that take time to count, and an order allows them to be counted up until Friday if they are postmarked by Nov. 3.
The Associated Press has not yet called Pennsylvania. Democrat Joe Biden currently has 248 electoral votes, while Trump has 214. It takes 270 to win the presidency.
Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick won a third term in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District in suburban Philadelphia. Fitzpatrick beat Democrat Christina Finello.
Fitzpatrick is a former FBI agent who succeeded his brother in the seat. He brands himself as independent in the politically divided district.
He was one of just three House Republicans in the entire country running for reelection in a district won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016′s presidential contest.
Some of Pennsylvania’s most heavily populated counties, including Philadelphia and suburban counties like Montgomery, Chester, Bucks and Delaware, were tabulating votes around the clock. Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, said it would resume the count at 10 a.m. More than 900,000 mail ballots were left to be counted, according to the latest state data.
Philadelphia showed live video of workers in yellow and orange safety vests preparing ballots to be scanned. City officials counseled patience.
“Counting votes cast by mail, if you’re going to do it right and you’re going to do it accurately — because there’s no other choice — takes a little bit of time. So I know that’s very frustrating,” City Commissioner Al Schmidt said Wednesday, adding that “it’s more important than we do it right than meet artificial deadlines.”
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf sounded a similar note Wednesday, pledging that all votes are “going to be counted accurately and they’re going to be counted fully. ... Every Pennsylvanian can have confidence in the outcome of this election.”
Hearings were scheduled Wednesday in two Election Day lawsuits filed by Republicans, both seeking to prevent voters whose mail-in ballots were disqualified for technical reasons from fixing it or casting a new ballot. One is in federal court in Philadelphia, the other is in a statewide appellate court in Harrisburg.
Republicans and a voter filed a federal lawsuit accusing officials in suburban Philadelphia’s Montgomery County of illegally processing 49 mail-in ballots before Tuesday for the purpose of allowing voters to fix problems with their ballots.
Kelly Cofrancisco, a county spokesperson, insisted the state’s highest court has not prohibited counties from allowing voters to fix their ballots.
And in the lawsuit filed Tuesday night in the appellate court, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and five other plaintiffs asked to block counties from allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were disqualified to be able to cast a vote by provisional ballot.
The state’s top election official, Kathy Boockvar, insisted that the practice singled out by the lawsuit is legal.
The state Supreme Court — citing Postal Service delays, the huge number of people voting by mail because of the pandemic and the strain on county boards of election — ordered counties to count mail-in ballots received as many as three days after the vote, so long as they were mailed by Election Day.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Republican effort to block the counting of late-arriving mail-in votes, but it could revisit the issue.
Trump has tried to sow doubt about the fairness of the election, saying the only way Democrats could win Pennsylvania is to cheat.
Later in an appearance at the White House, he made premature claims of victory and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue.
Voting was smooth for the most part. A judge ordered a polling place in Scranton, Democrat Biden’s hometown, to remain open an additional 45 minutes because machines had been briefly out of commission earlier in the day.
All of Pennsylvania’s 18 members of Congress sought reelection. Many of the highest-profile races had yet to be decided Wednesday.
A pair of Democratic incumbents, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Treasurer Joe Torsella, sought reelection, while Pennsylvanians also voted for a new auditor general. Those races also were too early to call.
Control of the state House was also at stake. Democrats went into the election needing nine seats to seize the majority from Republicans after a decade out of power, but lost at least one incumbent in early returns. First-term Rep. Wendy Ullman of Bucks County in the Philadelphia suburbs was defeated by Republican Shelby Labs.
Democrats also saw hopes of regaining a state Senate majority become dimmer as Republican Devlin Robinson unseated Democratic Sen. Pam Iovino in a suburban Pittsburgh district.
Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania.