President Donald Trump on Monday criticized the Supreme Court ruling that allows ballots postmarked on or before Election Day to be received up to three days later in Pennsylvania as dangerous and imbued with the potential to spark unrest.
In a tweet, Trump claimed the Supreme Court decision would “allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets.”
“The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one,” Trump wrote.
Twitter added a warning label to the president’s tweet with the message, “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
While roughly 20 states allow for late-arriving ballots, provided they are postmarked on or before Election Day, Pennsylvania’s GOP-controlled legislature did not authorize an extension. The three-day extension was ordered by Pennsylvania’s top court. The Supreme Court refused to block it, but several conservative justices have indicated they could revisit the issue after the election. Similar ballot-deadline extensions have resulted in court fights in Minnesota and North Carolina.
The legal issue is whether the extension ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, relying on voter protections in the Pennsylvania constitution, violated the U.S. Constitution. The argument advanced by Republicans is that the Constitution gives state legislatures—not state courts—the power to decide how electoral votes are awarded, including whether absentee ballots received after Election Day can be counted.
Trump’s tweet is the latest salvo in his and his campaign’s battle to prevent Pennsylvania from counting mailed ballots that are received in the three days after the election, with the president earlier signaling that his team will pursue an aggressive legal strategy to keep those votes from being tallied. The matter could find its way to the Supreme Court, especially if those ballots could tip the outcome in the battleground state.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, has already told local elections officials to keep the late-arriving ballots separate, but also to count them. She acknowledged that a post-election court fight could change that.
Over the weekend, Trump continued to rail against absentee ballots, frustrated by a Supreme Court ruling that didn’t deliver a clear GOP win, continuing his monthslong push to sow doubt about potential voter fraud.
Justin Clark, the deputy Trump campaign manager and senior counsel, said Boockvar “is blatantly attempting to steal this election for Joe Biden and the Democrats. But make no mistake: President Trump and his team will continue to fight for the free, fair election, and the trustworthy results all Americans deserve.”
While White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in an interview on Fox & Friends on Monday, rejected the claim that Trump was preparing to declare a premature victory, she argued that “Americans deserve to know the victor of the election on election night.”
Asked by Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy about the campaign’s plan under the circumstances that, this year, record numbers of early ballots were cast by mail and that some states don’t even begin counting those votes until after the polls close on Election Day, she replied: “We don’t believe that voters should have to wait for days on end. We know that that’s subject to fraud, finding new ballots out there.”
“We believe that the vote should be counted, it should be tallied like it always has and America should rise to the occasion and do what has always been the great American tradition of counting ballots on the day of the election,” she said.
Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a public briefing Monday that “Under no scenario will Donald Trump be declared a victor on election night.”
“At the end of the day, we believe we’re going to win this race,” she said. “We believe we’re going to be able to do that with our pathways to victory regardless of what Donald Trump says.”