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Trump asks judge to declare him winner of Pennsylvania in latest election challenge

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U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign on Wednesday asked a judge to declare him the winner in Pennsylvania, saying the state’s Republican-controlled legislature should select the electors that will cast votes in the U.S. Electoral College system.

In a court filing, the campaign asked U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann to consider issuing an order that “the results of the 2020 presidential general election are defective and providing for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to choose Pennsylvania’s electors.”

Read more: Trump turns to blocking state certification of U.S. election results after court losses

The request was part of a larger bid by the campaign to amend a Nov. 9 lawsuit challenging the outcome in Pennsylvania.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden won with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 nationwide. The winner needs 270, and Trump would have to flip the outcome in Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes, and two other states. Biden won Pennsylvania by around 82,000 votes, according to Edison Research.

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Trump’s legal team, led by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, also sought permission from Brann to put back legal claims that it dropped on Sunday from the lawsuit. They said Republican observers were denied access to the counting of mail-in ballots, an assertion election officials dispute.

The lawsuit also alleges inconsistent treatment by county election officials of mail-in ballots. Some counties notified voters that they could fix minor defects such as missing “secrecy envelopes” while others did not.

Brann expressed skepticism of the lawsuit at a hearing on Tuesday.

Read more: Giuliani returns to court, arguing Pennsylvania should block Biden election win

Trump’s case is deeply flawed and does not give Trump “any viable path to overturning the results,” said Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor who has been tracking the litigation.

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The amended filing “does not offer any indication that a number of ballots sufficient to make up the difference in the election were invalid,” Levitt said, adding that “courts won’t toss ballots out (or otherwise stop an election tally in progress) without actual proof that the ballots in question were invalid.”

Republican Trump’s campaign has filed a flurry of lawsuits in a long-shot bid to reverse the election. Trump has claimed without evidence that the election was stolen.

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said earlier Wednesday it would take up an appeal by Trump’s campaign challenging thousands of mail-in votes cast in Philadelphia that were missing information on the return envelopes.

The lower Court of Common Pleas ruled on Friday against the Trump campaign which sought to invalidate 8,329 ballots in Philadelphia, the state’s biggest city, because envelopes lacked information such as printed names, the date or addresses.

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The campaign has not alleged the ballots were fraudulent.

President-elect Joe Biden, the Democratic challenger, won Pennsylvania by a margin of around 82,000 votes, according to Edison Research and the Associated Press.

Read more: Trump’s Pennsylvania election lawsuit goes ahead after judge denies request for delay

A decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would likely impact ballots across the state, although the number was unclear.

In a separate case likely to be affected by a Supreme Court decision, Nicole Ziccarelli, a Republican state senate candidate said in court papers she was seeking to invalidate 2,349 ballots in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, because envelopes lacked dates.

In another Trump lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against the campaign on Tuesday and said Philadelphia officials acted reasonably in keeping Trump observers behind barricades and 15 feet (4.5 m) from counting tables.

A Reuters poll on Wednesday showed about half of Republicans believe Trump had the election stolen from him.

(Reporting by Tom Hals and Jan Wolfe, Noeleen Walder; editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool)