With less than a day to go until the federal deadline for states to lock in their delegates for the Dec. 14 Electoral College vote, Pennsylvania Republicans have bombarded state and federal courts with a flurry of new legal filings, grasping for last-minute traction in their thus far unsuccessful attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election.
A group of nine Pennsylvania lawmakers, led by State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), filed a new lawsuit before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court posted to public dockets Monday that called the state’s administration of the 2020 election “so severely flawed it is impossible to certify the accuracy of the purported results.”
They requested the court withdraw Pennsylvania’s final vote tally — a case they supported with already debunked conspiracy theories and a bevy of complaints that have previously been rejected by state and federal judges in earlier legal fights.
Meanwhile, in a separate filing, several of the same lawmakers joined more than 30 other GOP state House colleagues in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a push from U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Pa.) to roll back Pennsylvania’s certified results based on his arguments that the state’s vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional.
All this came as President Donald Trump’s lawyers waged a smaller-scale — but likely equally quixotic fight — over roughly 2,000 mail ballots they are seeking to disqualify in Bucks County in what has become the campaign’s last active legal challenge in the state. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where the campaign is pressing that case, already rejected similar suits involving ballots from Philadelphia and Montgomery County challenged over identical issues.
With legal briefs flying, Lyndsay Kensinger, a spokesperson for Gov. Tom Wolf, dismissed the Republicans’ latest efforts Monday as “just another attempt … to spread disinformation and ignore reality.”
“Allegations of fraud and tired conspiracy theories have been repeatedly debunked and dismissed by the courts,” she said. “The facts are clear: Pennsylvania had a free and fair election and pretending otherwise should be rejected by all of us.”
It was unlikely that any of the last-minute legal wrangling had any chance of changing the election loss that Trump and his allies have been denying for over a month.
The federal deadline for states to resolve any outstanding election disputes and lock in their delegates for the Electoral College vote is Tuesday. And by Monday evening, Wolf’s office said it had not yet even been served with Metcalfe’s new suit.
What’s more, the state certified its results last month, declaring President-elect Joe Biden the victor by some 81,000 votes. And Wolf has appointed Biden’s slate of delegates to deliver him the state’s 20 Electoral College votes next week.
But as time has run short and Republican leadership in the state legislature has made it clear it has no intention of acting on calls from some in their party to upend that process, the efforts by upstart GOP representatives in Harrisburg have only become more frenzied.
In a flurry of letters last week, many of the same lawmakers who signed on to Metcalfe’s lawsuit and Monday’s brief before the U.S Supreme Court also called on Wolf to convene a special session of the legislature and Attorney General Josh Shapiro to appoint a special prosecutor, both to investigate claims of supposed election irregularities.
In another missive Friday, they urged Pennsylvania’s congressmen and senators to reject the state’s Electoral College votes when Congress convenes to certify them next month.
“There are countless documented election irregularities and improprieties that prevent an accounting of the election results,” lawyers for Metcalfe and his fellow plaintiffs — who include Republican State Reps. Russ Diamond, Dawn Keefer, Thomas Sankey, Robert Kauffman, Kathy Rapp, Stephanie Borowicz, Cris Dush, and Francis Ryan — wrote in their new lawsuit.
The suit names as defendants Wolf, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and Biden’s slate of Electoral College delegates.
In urging the Commonwealth Court to “decertify” the results, they rehashed many of the complaints that failed to persuade judges when the Trump campaign originally argued them in their own legal challenges less than a month ago.
Those included disputes over the level of access partisan monitors had to the counting of votes and the fact that some counties, under guidance from the state, allowed voters to correct mistakes on their mail ballots.
But in addition, Metcalfe and his fellow plaintiffs claimed that their suit also had proof of fraud.
That evidence consisted, in part, of a rambling account from Jesse Richard Morgan, a York County U.S. Postal Service contractor whose claims of allegedly driving a truck full of already filled out mail ballots from New York to Pennsylvania have gained the attention of Fox News host Sean Hannity and the president himself.
But the affidavit from Morgan that Metcalfe submitted with his lawsuit Monday outlines little more than a series of vague suspicions that led him to believe that a man named “Buffalo Bill” loaded his truck up in October with what he suspects could have been thousands of fraudulent ballots. Morgan said he believes they were destined for Philadelphia, based on a theory his mom floated while discussing her suspicions about the state’s election returns.
Still, the lawmakers now relying on Morgan’s testimony in their suit seemed to disagree Monday on just how many supposedly phony ballots they were discussing. In his affidavit, Morgan first said he couldn’t begin to estimate, then pegged the number between 250 and 7,500.
In their legal filings, Metcalfe and his colleagues, without citing any reference, claim it was 200,000.
It is not uncommon for absentee ballots to arrive from out of state. And elections administrators have dismissed many of the events Morgan describes as suspicious in his story as routine and not indicative of fraud.
The lawsuit also draws on the conclusions of what it describes as an expert analysis to support its claims of other widespread irregularities.
But its author, Francis X. Ryan, is one of the plaintiffs and a Republican state representative from Lebanon County. He is a certified public accountant with no apparent background in statistical analysis or voting systems. And the inconsistencies in the state’s voter registration database that he cites as evidence of misconduct have been explained away by elections administrators as little more than data entry errors.
Still, Ryan confidently proclaimed: “It is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to contend that fraud did not occur.”
Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia-based election lawyer who has worked for Democrats in legal challenges this year, drew another conclusion.
“We’re well over a week past Thanksgiving, yet all [this suit] is offering is more leftovers,” he said. “There’s nothing new here.”
Read the new lawsuit: