On November 9, 2020, President Trump’s campaign filed a federal lawsuit against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the boards of elections of six counties - Philadelphia, Allegheny, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Northampton, and Centre. In their lawsuit, the Trump campaign claims that their observers were unable to stand close enough to watch the count of mail and absentee ballots in several counties. They don’t deny their observers are in the room; they just claim they need to be closer. The campaign also asserts that it is illegal and unconstitutional for some counties to notify and allow voters to correct mistakes with the declarations on the envelopes of their mail and absentee ballots.

In their complaint, the campaign fails to produce evidence of a single case of voter fraud. Their 86-page complaint is filled with citations to unverified news and social media reports and vague insinuations of irregularities. They have not produced a single piece of evidence that a court of law could accept.

The Trump campaign has asked the federal court to issue an order to prohibit the commonwealth from certifying its presidential election results. If successful, that would effectively cancel the votes of more than 6.8 million Pennsylvanians and allow the Pennsylvania legislature to substitute its will for that of the voters. Alternatively, the campaign has asked the court to order that any mail and absentee ballots that were counted when their observers were unable to watch the count and ballots that were “cured’ - when the voters had the chance to fix the mistakes on their envelopes - should not be included in Pennsylvania’s final tally. 

On November 10, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and co-counsel filed a motion to intervene in the case on behalf of eight impacted voters, Black Political Empowerment Project, Common Cause PA, League of Women Voters of PA, and NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, which the judge granted on November 12.  This means our clients, called intervenor defendants, and their lawyers can participate in court proceedings as parties to the case. We are the only non-partisan groups representing voters’ interests and rights.

On November 12, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the Plaintiffs’ claims about technical irregularities could and should have been brought in state court earlier in the process, when they could have been cured, and that even if there were minor technical problems the Plaintiffs have produced no evidence of fraud or ineligible voters casting ballots to justify disenfranchising a single voter, much less 6.8 million.  

On November 21, Judge William Brann dismissed the lawsuit, saying, "(T)his Court has been presented with strained
legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations...unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state."

On November 27, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the district court's decision.


Witold Walczak & Marian Schneider of the ACLU of PA; Sarah Brannon, Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, Dale Ho, Sophia Lin Lakin, & Ihaab Syed of the ACLU

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Ezra Rosenberg, Jon Greenbaum, & Kristen Clarke of Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Mimi McKenzie, Benjamin D. Geffen & Claudia De Palma of Public Interest Law Center; Shankar Duraiswamy, David M. Zionts, Rani Gupta of Covington & Burling LLP

Date filed

November 9, 2020


The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania