Election-related legal wrangling underway in Pennsylvania, Nevada

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Last-minute legal jockeying over Tuesday’s election led Democrats to head off a GOP effort to halt vote-counting in Nevada’s most populous county, while Republicans in Pennsylvania filed two lawsuits seeking to block counting of some absentee votes in the state.

The Nevada Supreme Court rejected a bid by President Donald Trump’s campaign to block the tallying of votes in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and accounts for more than two-thirds of the state’s population.

The Trump campaign’s suit argues that its poll watchers were being sidelined at ballot-counting sites and that an automated process the county is using to check signatures on absentee ballots is unreliable.

But Nevada’s highest court said the campaign’s case was too weak to justify an immediate order blocking vote counting.

“Appellants’ motion, on its face, does not identify any mandatory statutory duty that respondents appear to have ignored,” the court’s order said.

Republicans in Pennsylvania, meanwhile, filed a suit seeking to block election officials from counting provisional ballots submitted by voters whose absentee ballots were disqualified.

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, issued guidance to counties last month saying that voters whose mail-in or absentee ballots were rejected could still obtain a provisional ballot on Election Day and vote that way.

However, according to the suit filed by GOP Rep. Mike Kelly in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, at least seven counties indicated they planned to ignore the guidance because the law doesn’t expressly authorize use of provisional ballots in such circumstances.

The court set a hearing for Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Harrisburg on Kelly’s suit.

Separately, a Republican congressional candidate in the Philadelphia suburbs, Kathy Barnette, filed a federal lawsuit seeking an order to stop Montgomery County election officials from contacting voters whose absentee ballots were rejected because of flaws. Barnette’s suit contends such outreach is illegal.

The county’s attorneys fired back in a filing late Tuesday, arguing that officials there were doing nothing wrong.

“Just as Plaintiffs cannot point to anything in the Election Code that forbids inspection of ballots before pre-canvassing,” the county’s lawyers said, “nothing in the Election Code prohibits notifying voters whose absentee and mail-in ballots are deficient to give those voters an opportunity to cure those deficiencies.”

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Savage, an appointee of President George W. Bush, set a hearing for 9 a.m. Wednesday in Philadelphia on Barnette’s motion for a temporary restraining order.

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