The Trump for President campaign, pressed by a Pittsburgh federal judge's court order, has not provided any evidence of voting fraud involving mail-in voting or ballot drop boxes in Pennsylvania's 2020 primary. The campaign's attorneys say their court case against current implementation of Pennsylvania voting law does not need them to do so.
It's a concession that they don't have any evidence that there was any fraud in the June primary," Sarah Brannon, the ACLU Voting Rights Project managing attorney who represents several intervening groups, told Pittsburgh's Action News 4.
Citing concerns over the pandemic, Brannon said, "We would want for everybody in Pennsylvania to be able to vote and take advantage of the new law and not have to choose between their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote and their health."
The Trump campaign's lawyers write in their court-ordered response that, Neither the original Complaint nor the Amended Complaint contains an allegation that "ballot harvesting," "manipulating and destroying ballots," double voting, and/or voter fraud from mail-in and absentee ballots actually occurred during the Primary Election.
The campaign attorney's response emphasized instead that its lawsuit argues mail-in voting in Pennsylvania "provides fraudsters an easy opportunity to engage in" such activity.
The claims asserted by the plaintiffs do not hinge on evidence of voter fraud actually occurring," they wrote.
The NAACP in Pennsylvania is one of several intervening organizations who asked the judge to order the Trump campaign to provide specifics.
The right to vote is at stake. Literally 55 years ago, the Voting Rights Act was passed. The Trump administration is systemically trying to diminish our right to vote. Particularly for Black and brown people This is a critical time, this is critical issue," Kenneth Huston, NAACP Pennsylvania president told Pittsburgh's Action News 4. "We can't sit idly by. We won't, as the NAACP of Pennsylvania, and allow these attacks to occur."
A senior official of the Trump campaign responded via email to our request for comment.
We comply with all court orders, as we did in this case and we are confident in this lawsuit. President Trump will continue fighting for a free, fair, transparent election so that every valid ballot counts—and counts once," the email said.
This is more of the same voter fraud rhetoric that we have seen. So the Trump administration is just engaged in rank speculation that there are problems with drop boxes and that voter fraud will occur," Brannon said.
In its court-ordered response, the Trump campaign complained that asking for proof of such wrongdoing is "outside the limited scope of the expedited discovery ordered by the court."
It went on to list cases of alleged election fraud that are unrelated to mail-in voting or to drop boxes, providing links to news articles in its response.
Those instances that they are discussing and linking to are, first off , are very limited in number. But none of them relate to the use of drop boxes or mail-in voting. They are isolated incidents, instances of fraud that involve a few bad actors," Brannon said. "So there is no evidence that drop boxes, which is really one of the cruxes of the litigation, is going on in any way contribute to fraud or have been used fraudulently by Pennsylvania citizens."
The Trump campaign response comes in its court-ordered answer to requests by groups intervening in its federal lawsuit against the state in US District Court in western Pennsylvania.
The groups asked -- and the federal judge ordered the Trump campaign to provide -- evidence or instances of voter fraud from mail-in and absentee ballots during the primary election.
Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan had ordered the Trump campaign to "respond fully" with specific information or documents requested" regarding any alleged voter fraud in the primary involving mail in voting or drop boxes.
The judge also ordered, "If there are no responsive documents, Plaintiffs must state as such."
The Trump campaign attorneys write that they "reserve the right to supplement this response further if necessary."
The lawsuit seeks to restrict elements of mail-in voting and drop boxes in Pennsylvania, claiming they would allow for voter fraud. It also seeks to allow poll watchers who are not county residents cross over into other people's counties to observe voting places and procedures.
In addition to the NAACP State Conference, Brannon co-represents Common Cause Pennsylvania, The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, and three individual voters who intervened to join the case.
It's well documented that thousands of people vote by mail," Brannon said. There are a number of states that have done all-mail or mostly mail elections for years and had very few, if any, instances of fraud."
The Trump campaign's lawsuit is far from over. Numerous depositions, statements from experts and documents are being filed by nearly 100 parties involved in the the suit. The campaign and co-plaintiffs sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and every elections office in every county in the state. A court hearing is more than a month away.