Republicans File New Lawsuit Over Absentee Ballots in Pennsylvania

Donald Trump on Sunday threatened legal action to stop the tabulation of ballots arriving after Election Day.

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On Tuesday, 3 November, shortly after the presidential polls opened on Election Day, Republicans in Pennsylvania filed a new lawsuit in a challenge to the Montgomery County officials' process for handling absentee ballots that arrived before 3 November, CNN reported.

They have reportedly asked for a court order to stop "pre-canvassing" of these ballots before 7 am local time and not contact those whose mail-in ballot has a perceived defect to change their ballot.

In addition, Republicans want any ballots that have been changed set aside. However, the number of ballots affected could be quite narrow, with only 1,200 such ballots having been identified, CNN reported.

Tuesday’s legal action comes on the heels of US President Donald Trump’s threat on Sunday to take legal action to stop tabulation of ballots arriving after Election Day in battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania.

Trump was reported as having said “we’re going in with our lawyers,” according to Associated Press.

Trump and his campaign team have long been attacking mail-in ballots, alleging that voting by mail is a recipe for “massive cheating”, a statement which is factually inaccurate.

Mail-in voting essentially means authorities send ballots to a voter based on their request which is then sent back to the authorities post voting. This system of voting has been around since the Civil War.

The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in multiple states, including Pennsylvania and Nevada, related to their mail-in ballot practices.

Pennsylvania Under Shadow

Court rulings in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina have held that ballots that arrive after 3 November to be counted, as long as they were dispatched on election day.

However, conservative justices have reportedly expressed an interest in taking up the propriety of the three added days post-election with regard to Pennsylvania. Owing to this, those ballots are being kept separate, in case the litigation goes forward, according to Associated Press.

Pennsylvania is an important battleground under the shadow of a legal battle, one which will be key to the presidential contest.

According to USA Today, at least five counties in Pennsylvania have announced they will not be counting absentee and mail-in ballots until 4 November, but Trump has called this unfair.

This is a complaint that Trump has been using: “The Election should end on 3 November, not weeks later!” he had tweeted.

But, in reality, what Trump wants – that every vote in a modern election being “counted, tabulated, finished” by midnight – has never been possible.

No state has ever reported final results on the night of the election, neither is it expected to do so, reports The New York Times.

In fact, courts forcing states to stop counting after 3 November would actually disenfranchise millions of voters who cast their ballots on time.

(With inputs from AP, CNN, USA Today and The New York Times.)

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