Pennsylvania certifies Biden's election victory in blow to Trump

Election workers count ballots at the Philadelphia Convention Centre on Nov 6, 2020.
Election workers count ballots at the Philadelphia Convention Centre on Nov 6, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Pennsylvania's top election official certified Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the key battleground state, dealing another significant blow to President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the election results.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar certified Mr Biden's victory in Pennsylvania, according to a tweet by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

The certification is the official declaration that Mr Biden won Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes. Mr Wolf said he's appointed the electors who will cast their votes for Mr Biden when they meet on Dec 14, unless a court intervenes.

The Pennsylvania certification was the latest in a series of defeats for Mr Trump, who has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, to have won the Nov 3 election. His campaign has filed lawsuits and demanded recounts and audits across several battleground states, efforts that have gotten him no closer to a second term.

Among the remaining contested battleground states, Georgia certified its election results last week and Michigan on Monday. Nevada will certify on Tuesday, Arizona on Nov 30 and Wisconsin by Dec 1 after a recount in two counties requested by Mr Trump - leaving the president unable to stop Mr Biden from reaching the 270 electoral votes needed for the presidency.

Mr Trump and his allies continue to challenge the outcome of the Pennsylvania vote, despite numerous court defeats and what legal experts have said is the lack of evidence needed to invalidate votes.

On Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties shouldn't be discarded because of technical errors like voters failing to print their names if there's no evidence of fraud.

The Trump campaign's lawsuit that aimed to block Pennsylvania from certifying its election results was dismissed on Saturday by US District Judge Matthew Brann, who called the complaint a "Frankenstein's Monster" that had been "haphazardly stitched together" with strained legal arguments and speculative accusations.

On Monday, the campaign filed an appeal seeking to revise the case with a new complaint and force Mr Brann to hold a new hearing on it. The campaign also asked the appeals court to issue a temporary restraining order to block the "effects" of certification, arguing it has until Dec 8 to prevent the state's electors from being assigned to Biden.

Mr Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said the case should be decided by the US Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority. Mr Trump has said his goal is to "decertify" the state's results one way or another.

Pennsylvania Republicans including US Representative Mike Kelly, a Trump ally, have also sued in state court to block certification on grounds the legislature's adoption of expanded absentee voting last year was unconstitutional - even though the legislature was controlled by Republicans and there wasn't a challenge to the new system until Trump lost.

Mr Trump has advocated on Twitter the idea that Republican-controlled state legislatures could ignore the popular vote for Biden in the Nov 3 election and appoint competing slates of electors that Congress could consider when it convenes on Jan 6 to count each state's electoral votes.

But legal experts say that isn't likely, especially because it would require multiple states to act and Congress would be compelled to accept the Biden slate of electors as long as they are appointed and all disputes resolved by Dec 8, the so-called "Safe Harbor" deadline.