Pennsylvania officials ask court to reject Trump campaign's election appeal

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for the presentation (and pardoning) of the 73rd National Thanksgiving Turkey in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(Reuters) -Pennsylvania officials told a federal appeals court on Tuesday it should reject a bid by U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign to block President-elect Joe Biden from being declared the winner of the battleground state, according to a court filing.

Lawyers for Trump's campaign have asked the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the "effect" of the state's results. The results were certified earlier on Tuesday, clearing the way for Biden to receive the state's 20 electoral votes and dimming Trump's long-shot quest to change the outcome of the election.

While Trump's administration begins the process of formally transitioning the government to Biden, Trump's campaign is appealing a decision made by a lower court judge, who rejected claims of inconsistent treatment of mail-in ballots. Some counties told voters they could fix defective ballots, such as a missing "secrecy envelope," while others did not.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann dismissed the case, saying he had "no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens."

In appealing the decision, the Trump campaign said it was focusing on the "narrow" question of whether Brann improperly refused to let it amend the lawsuit a second time.

The campaign wants to add back allegations it dropped from the case, including a claim that its due process rights were violated.

"The Trump Campaign seeks to needlessly draw out this futile legislation by asserting the right to reinstate meritless claims they excised and abandoned in the District Court in a well-publicized effort to undermine this election and, ultimately, democracy itself," lawyers for four of the counties involved in the lawsuit wrote in a court filing.

The campaign on Monday denied trying to disenfranchise the state's 6.8 million voters and said it wanted an expert to "sample" 1.5 million mail ballots to determine how many were defective.

Those defective ballots, the Trump campaign said, should be "deducted from Biden's votes, which may change the result of the election."

Biden received nearly 81,000 more votes than Trump in the state.

Even if Trump was able to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania, he would need to invalidate the results in two other key states to change the outcome of the election.

"Trump did not succeed in Pennsylvania and he will not succeed anywhere else," Bob Bauer, an adviser to Biden, said in a statement on Tuesday.

If the campaign loses its appeal, it could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up its case.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Chris Reese and Tom Brown)

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