Poll watchers are now allowed to be within six feet of ballot counting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Campaign observers see that the mail-in ballots are submitted properly in a secrecy envelope with no errant markings and with a signature that matches the one elections officials have on file. President Trump's team has complained that designated campaign observers have been forced to stand too far away and that they could not see the ballots. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, one observer was photographed using binoculars during the vote count inside the Convention Center on November 3.
On November 5, a Pennsylvania judge granted the Trump campaign’s request for Philadelphia poll workers to observe up close as they processed mail-in ballots. According to USA Today, the trial judge ruled that the Board of Elections had complied with observation requirements in state law, based on what a witness for the Trump campaign testified. The witness said, "the closest we can get to the first table (in the large ballot processing center) in each row is approximately ... 15 to 18 feet." The farthest table was about 105 feet away, the witness said. "We have attempted to get a better view using binoculars. But the process is — the extraction (of ballots from envelopes) is moving so fast that it's really impossible to see, even using binoculars, the desks that are behind the first one in each row," the report said.
Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon reversed a lower court decision, and ruled that “all candidates, watchers, or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process … and be permitted to observe all aspects of the canvassing process within 6 feet, while adhering to all COVID-19 protocols, including, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.” The Board of Elections has asked the state Supreme Court to review the decision, saying allowing observers so close jeopardizes the safety of privacy of the vote-counting process.
Trump's assertions that observers are being deliberately kept from watching the processing of mail-in ballots because a fraud is being committed are therefore misleading.