(The Center Square) – A federal judge halted a lawsuit filed in June against Pennsylvania election officials regarding the state’s ballot collection procedures, preferring instead for lower courts to rule on the issue first.
Nicholas Ranjan, of the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Pennsylvania, said in a filing Sunday that his order will “apply the brakes … and allow the state courts to weigh in and interpret the state statutes that undergird Plaintiffs' federal- constitutional claims.
"After carefully considering the arguments raised by the parties, the Court finds that the appropriate course is abstention, at least for the time being,” he said.
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee, and four GOP congressmen – Glen Thompson, Mike Kelly, John Joyce and Guy Reschenthaler – sued Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and all 67 county election boards in June over the way some primary mail-in ballots were collected and counted.
The plaintiffs want the court to prohibit mail-in and absentee ballots from being accepted anywhere except county board of elections offices – not in shopping centers, parking lots, fairgrounds parks or retirement homes, as happened in the state’s primary election last month.
“The President's fight against the problems of Pennsylvania's radical new vote-by-mail system has been running on parallel tracks in state and federal court for some time," Trump campaign deputy manger Justin Clark told The Hill in response to the judge's decision to pause the case.
"The judge's stay today is simply a recognition that the multitude of issues surrounding Pennsylvania's dangerous voting system – including ballot harvesting and double voting – touch both federal and state constitutional issues. The federal court is simply going to reserve its judgment on this in the hopes that the state court will resolve these serious issues and guarantee that every Pennsylvanian has their vote counted – once," he added.