The United States Courthouse is seen, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Williamsport, Pa. A hearing on the Trump campaign's federal…
The U.S. Courthouse is seen Nov. 17, 2020, in Williamsport, Pa.

Pennsylvania officials can certify election results that currently show Democrat Joe Biden winning the state by more than 80,000 votes, a federal judge ruled Saturday, dealing President Donald Trump's campaign another blow in its effort to invalidate the election.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, turned down the request for an injunction by Trump's campaign. In his ruling, Brann said the Trump campaign presented "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations ... unsupported by evidence."

"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state," the opinion said. "Our people, laws and institutions demand more."

Appeal to be sought

Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis pointed to the decision as a positive development in their effort to push the case relatively quickly to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a joint statement, they said they would seek an expedited appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York mayor, returned to court for the first time in decades to represent the Trump campaign Tuesday. He showed his rustiness by tripping himself up over the meaning of "opacity," mistaking the judge for a federal judge in a separate district and provoking an opposing lawyer.

FILE - Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington.

Giuliani repeatedly contended in court that it was illegal for counties to help people vote. Opposing lawyer Mark Aronchick suggested Giuliani must not know the Pennsylvania election code.

Trump had argued that the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated when Pennsylvania counties took different approaches to notifying voters before the election about technical problems with their submitted mail-in ballots.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the seven Biden-majority counties that the campaign sued had argued Trump previously raised similar claims and lost.

'No justification'

They told Brann the remedy the Trump campaign sought, to throw out millions of votes over alleged isolated issues, was far too extreme, particularly after most of them have been tallied.

"There is no justification on any level for the radical disenfranchisement they seek," Boockvar's lawyers wrote in a brief filed Thursday.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, tweeted shortly after Brann's ruling, saying that "another one bites the dust."

"These claims were meritless from the start and for an audience of one," Shapiro said in a statement. "The will of the people will prevail. These baseless lawsuits need to end."

The state's 20 electoral votes would not have been enough on their own to hand Trump a second term.

Counties must certify their results to Boockvar by Monday, after which she will make her own certification. Democratic Governor Tom Wolf will notify the winning candidate's electors that they should appear to vote in the Capitol on December 14.

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.