Trump’s Bid for Emergency Halt to Philadelphia Count Denied

A federal judge denied an emergency request from President Donald Trump’s campaign to stop ballot counting by the Philadelphia County Board of Elections until Republican observers are present.

The campaign sought an injunction on Thursday afternoon, claiming the board is “intentionally violating” state law by not allowing poll watchers from the Trump campaign and the Republican party to monitor the counting of mail-in and absentee ballots.

U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond issued a one-sentence order after a hearing, saying he was denying the order “in light of the parties’ agreement.”

Diamond suggested that each party be allowed 60 observers inside the convention center where election officials are counting ballots, according to the Associated Press. Diamond scolded the bickering lawyers at the hearing, according to the AP.

“Really, can’t we be responsible adults here and reach an agreement?” Diamond said, according to the AP. “The whole thing could (soon) be moot.”

After the ruling, the city commissioners said that Trump and his campaign “falsely claimed throughout the day that their representatives were not allowed in the room.”

During the hearing, a lawyer for the campaign admitted that “they had several representatives in the room,” according to a statement by the bipartisan board. In fact, the Republicans had at least 19 observers in the room during the afternoon, according to the statement.

The City Board of Elections also agreed to admit no more than 60 observers per side, according to the statement.

The hearing, held shortly after the Trump campaign filed the lawsuit, came amid a tense battle over the 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania, where Democratic nominee Joe Biden hopes to overtake the president. Biden needs a win in either Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada or North Carolina to secure the White House, assuming other race calls hold up.

Earlier on Thursday, a Pennsylvania state court judge ruled that observers could stand as close as 6 feet (2 meters) away while election officials counted mail-in and absentee ballots. The city petitioned the state Supreme Court to allow it to appeal.

The case is Donald J. Trump for President Inc. v. Philadelphia County Board of Elections, 20-5533, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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