In setback to Trump, judges rule against Republican challenges to ballots in Texas and Nevada

A pair of federal court rulings Monday gave President Trump’s reelection campaign more bad news, as judges in Texas and Nevada ruled that votes contested by Republicans should be counted by election officials as planned.

In a closely watched case in Texas, federal Judge Andrew Hanen rejected a last-ditch effort by Republicans in the state Legislature to toss approximately 127,000 ballots cast at drive-through polling locations in Harris County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Houston. The system had been set up in mid-October to enable voters to cast ballots without exposing themselves to the coronavirus.

Hanen said that the Republican challenge did not have standing and had come too late. Granting the Republican motion would have disenfranchised citizens who had voted in good faith.

“A lot of people would say, ‘Gee, if I had known there was a question about voting drive-in, I would have parked my car and walked to the polls,’” Hanen said.

A few hours later, the Republicans appealed Hanen’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a separate ruling, Nevada Circuit Court Judge James Wilson blocked a lawsuit brought by the Trump campaign and the Nevada Republican Party that sought to halt the counting of mail-in ballots in Clark County, another Democratic stronghold centered around Las Vegas. The lawsuit alleged that election officials needed to be monitored on video cameras to watch for ballot tampering or fraud, and accused them of “diluting” the votes.

Wilson ruled that the plaintiffs had not presented any proof to substantiate those claims.

“There is no evidence of any debasement or dilution of any citizen’s vote,” Wilson wrote.

Donald Trump
President Trump en route to campaign events on Monday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a Real Clear Politics average of polls, Trump leads Biden by 1.2 percentage points in Texas, while Biden leads Trump by 3.6 percent in Nevada.

The Trump campaign and the Republican Party have filed dozens of lawsuits in recent weeks to challenge whether and when ballots should be counted in key swing states.

As he campaigned Monday in Scranton, Pa., Trump again railed against an October ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that allows Pennsylvania officials to accept ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 even if they arrive as late as Friday.

“When the Supreme Court gave you an extension they made a very dangerous situation, and I mean dangerous, physically dangerous, and they made it a very, very bad,” Trump told his audience. “They did a very bad thing for this state. They did a very bad thing for this nation. You have to have a date. You can’t extend dates.”

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow for the counting of properly postmarked mail-in ballots that are received after Election Day.

Hours later, Trump went even further, tweeting that the high court’s decision in Pennsylvania would result in “violence in the streets.”

While the Supreme Court may yet revisit its decision in Pennsylvania and other key swing states and the ruling in Nevada could still be appealed, the Trump campaign’s strategy of trying to win the election in the courts by suppressing votes for the Democrats is facing an increasingly uphill battle.


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