Pennsylvania blasts Trump bid to 'sow chaos' in US ballot suit

Supporters of US President Trump protest the results of the presidential election at the Pennsylvania State Capital on Nov 7, 2020. PHOTO: NYTIMES

PHILADELPHIA (BLOOMBERG) - Pennsylvania officials urged a federal appeals court in the US to deny a request from President Donald Trump's campaign for an injunction that would undo the state's certification of presidential electors, at least temporarily.

Granting the Hail Mary motion "would sow chaos and confusion across the nation while inflaming baseless conspiracies about widespread fraud," Pennsylvania's elections chief Kathy Boockvar said in a filing Tuesday in the US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

The Trump campaign has asked the court to issue an emergency injunction while it attempts to revive a lawsuit that was dismissed on Saturday by a federal judge who eviscerated its weak claims and lack of evidence.

The campaign has said it wants to block "the effects" of certification during the appeal process, though the state was quick to point out that the request is vague about what exactly that would mean.

"Issuing an injunction pending appeal after Pennsylvania has already certified its election results would grievously undermine the public's trust in the electoral system, contravene democratic principles, and reward appellants for their procedural gamesmanship," the state said.

Boockvar, a Democrat, earlier Tuesday certified Biden's victory in the state, but Trump's campaign has argued in court filings that it can still "decertify" the result through litigation before Dec 8, the safe harbour deadline for states to choose electors for the Electoral College vote on Dec 14.

'Futile litigation'

Trump campaign's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The campaign argues Pennsylvania must throw out tens of thousands of mail-in ballots that it claims were "illegal" because election officials allowed voters to fix minor errors before Election Day - a practice that Boockvar encouraged and which isn't barred by state law.

Claims made by Giuliani and other campaign lawyers outside of court, where no evidence is needed, are far more outlandish, describing a vast Democratic scheme involving child voters, dead voters and secretive overseas ballot tabulation directed by George Soros and "communist money" from Venezuela and Cuba.

In a stinging dismissal, US District Judge Matthew Brann said the suit didn't come close to offering the kind of evidence of illegal voting that would justify throwing out a single ballot, let alone disenfranchising millions by blocking certification.

Lawyers for some of Pennsylvania's most-populous counties, which are defendants in the suit, filed a separate brief Tuesday in which they said the appeal "seeks to needlessly draw out this futile litigation" to undermine the election and "democracy itself."

The appeal seeks to force Brann to reconsider his refusal to let the campaign file a second amended lawsuit. The original complaint was voluntarily withdrawn due to errors, while the second version was tossed out by Brann.

The campaign's "conduct offers a case study in procedural chicanery," the state said. "They filed a complaint replete with frivolous allegations, amended it to remove many of their claims, and then tried to resuscitate those very same claims at the last minute as a basis for overturning the certification of election results in Pennsylvania."

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