A federal judge has denied the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s request to lift restrictions on poll watchers crossing county lines in the upcoming presidential election. Citing an unreasonable delay and a failure to persuade the court to bar enforcement of the state’s residency requirements for election monitors, U.S. District Judge Gerald Pappert said he would not issue the temporary restraining order or injunction the GOP had requested. “There is good reason to avoid last-minute intervention in a state’s election process. Any intervention at this point risks practical concerns including disruption, confusion or other unforeseen deleterious effects,” Pappert wrote. The GOP and several former Republican candidates filed the suit as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continued months of rhetoric suggesting that if he loses the election it is because it was rigged and urging supporters to go to polling places in “certain areas” to make sure “other people don’t come in and vote five times.”
Pennsylvania’s Election Code bars people from traveling from one part of the state to another to serve as poll watchers, meaning a Lehigh County resident could not serve as a poll watcher in Philadelphia.
The decision came nearly a week after lawyers for the party and Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes argued in a Philadelphia courtroom in an emergency hearing on the GOP’s request.
The Republican Party claimed the requirement that poll watchers live in the same county as the polling place they are assigned to monitor violates the constitution. A would-be poll watcher who wished to help a congressional candidate in a district spanning more than one county would be unconstitutionally barred from serving in polling places within his congressional district but outside of his home county, GOP lawyers argued.