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Election challenges live updates: Pennsylvania officials must separate ballots that arrived after Election Day

A multi-state legal battle launched by President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is continuing despite a number of setbacks since the election. The campaign has sued to allow its observers closer to ballot counting in Pennsylvania. A similar suit in Michigan has been dismissed. A suit over late absentee ballots in Georgia has been dismissed. Vote counting continues in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona. These battleground states are under intense scrutiny as former Vice President Joe Biden inches closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency. USA TODAY is tracking developments in the legal battle for the election. Keep refreshing this page for updates.

Pennsylvania officials: 'No evidence that any county is disobeying' guidance to segregate ballots received after Election Day

Pennsylvania officials said in a memo Saturday that ballots received after Election Day were being segregated and tallied separately, in response to a Republican injunction filed this week that alleged the ballots were not being segregated in all counties.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, on behalf of Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, said in the memo that the secretary’s guidance to counties to segregate ballots was "unambiguous."

"There is no evidence that any county is disobeying that clear guidance to segregate these votes, and the Republican Party offers only speculation that certain unidentified counties may ignore that repeated guidance or that the Secretary will inconsistently change course," the memo said.

As of Saturday afternoon, 63 counties had confirmed their prior compliance with the guidance, including Allegheny and Philadelphia, according to the memo. The votes received after 8 p.m. on Election Day were being tallied separately, the memo said.

– Grace Hauck

Alito orders Pennsylvania officials to separate ballots that arrived after Election Day

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, on Friday night ordered the state's county elections officials to keep separate mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day.

Prior to Alito's decision, the state’s top elections official had ordered those ballots be kept apart. But Alito acted after the state Republican Party said they couldn't be sure election officials are complying with guidance, which was issued by Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat.

The order is related to an ongoing Republican appeal to the Supreme Court to try to keep ballots received in the mail after Election Day from being counted. The state’s top court granted a three-day extension, and the Supreme Court refused to block it.

Election boards around the state received guidance from the Secretary of State to segregate mail ballots that arrived between Election Day and the Friday deadline. However, the guidance also allowed the votes to be counted, the application said. It's unclear whether all election boards are handling the ballots in the same way, the application said.

Alito ordered a response from the state by Saturday afternoon and said he has referred the matter to the full court for further action.

Trump's new campaign:Flurry of election lawsuits in search of strategy

Will the Supreme Court ride to Trump's rescue? Don't count on it.

The legal battle over the deadline extension is the only 2020 voting issue now facing potential Supreme Court action. It turned the case away just over a week ago because the justices would have been unable to hear arguments and rule before Election Day. 

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, a Republican, said the court's order Friday was a "rebuke" of Boockvar.

Nevada GOP seeks federal investigation into out-of-state voters

The Nevada Republican Party has asked the Department of Justice to investigate its allegation that thousands of nonresidents cast ballots in the state.

“Our lawyers just sent a criminal referral to AG Barr regarding at least 3,062 instances of voter fraud,” the Nevada Republican Party said late Thursday night. The party said the voters “appear to have violated the law by casting ballots after they moved from NV.”

Clark County Registrar of Voters Joseph Gloria, however, said it is common for out-of-state voters to cast ballots, including those serving in the military, university students and elected officials serving in Washington, D.C.

"They provided us with a list and we'll have to look through that," Gloria said. "However, their (complaint) is based on something that happens regularly. You don't have to live here to be eligible to vote here."

The Justice Department is reviewing the request, a Justice official said Friday. The official, who is not authorized to speak publicly, said there is no timetable for completing the review.

The same allegation — without evidence — is part of a federal lawsuit that makes other claims. The suit, filed against Nevada elections officials, alleges that a Las Vegas resident, 79 years old and blind, showed up to vote and was told she had already cast her ballot by mail. She contends she didn't.

Gloria told reporters Thursday that he personally helped her, and her signature matches the one on her mailed-in ballot. The Nevada Secretary of State looked into the matter and didn't raise any issues, he said.

The suit, filed late Thursday, aimed to stop Clark County from using signature verification machines to check votes and require that all mail ballots be hand-checked. On Friday, a federal judge denied that request. 

Judge Andrew Gordon said similar election law questions are already pending before the state Supreme Court. He said there was little or no evidence to suggest the county’s signature-matching machines were faulty, and perhaps even less evidence to suggest a human could do the job better.

Attorneys representing a pair of GOP congressional candidates and two Clark County voters also argued observers should be allowed within six feet of election workers in order to properly “see and hear” the ongoing vote count.

Gordon concluded it simply was not his place to weigh in on the case, especially given a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that appeared to discourage meddling in state-run elections.

— USA TODAY Network reporters Anjeanette Damon, James DeHaven and Ed Komenda of the Reno Gazette Journal and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

Democrats look for ballot fixes in Nevada

Democrats, meanwhile, are knocking on doors of Nevada voters whose ballots could not be counted because of errors and encouraging them to fix the problems.

As of Friday afternoon, Biden was leading Trump by a margin of roughly 20,100 votes out of 1.26 million counted so far. An estimated 13% of votes had not been tabulated.

Where the counts stand Friday:Biden takes lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia

Riley Sutton told the Reno Gazette Journal he spent the past few days driving from house to house. He has connected with 20% to 30% percent of people on his list, provided by the Biden campaign. In Washoe County, where Reno is located, voters whose ballots have not yet been counted due to an error have until Nov. 12 to straighten it out.

“I’ve got a lot of other things to do,” Sutton said. “But nothing else seems as important as this.”

— Amy Alonzo, Reno Gazette Journal

Federal judge doesn't stop vote counting in Philadelphia

The Trump campaign has sued in Pennsylvania state court, claiming its observers haven't been allowed to get close enough to ballot counting in Philadelphia. A trial judge ruled that the Philadelphia County Board of Elections had complied with observation requirements in state law, based on what a witness for the Trump campaign testified.

But a state appeals court overruled that, saying observers could be allowed within 6 feet. The elections board has asked the state Supreme Court to step in, saying that proximity jeopardizes the safety and privacy of the counting.

Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke fills out an application for a mail-in ballot before voting at the opening of a satellite election office at Temple University's Liacouras Center.

The Trump campaign filed a motion in federal court Thursday claiming the board of elections was stalling on providing better access for observers while it continued to count. The campaign asked the court to order the elections board not to count ballots unless Republican observers are present.

A federal judge denied that request Thursday evening, urging the two sides to instead forge an agreement.

Trump camp continues baseless claims of cheating

As Biden's share of votes in key states grew Friday morning, Trump's campaign continued its attacks on vote counting. Trump campaign lawyer Matt Morgan baselessly referred to "improperly harvested ballots" in Georgia, "irregularities" in Pennsylvania and "improperly cast" ballots in Nevada.

The allegations, presented without evidence, followed remarks by Trump at the White House Thursday, where he leveled a series of baseless claims against the system of counting presidential ballots and accused Democrats of trying to "steal" the election. He, too, offered no evidence. 

"If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us," Trump claimed at the White House.

No evidence of fraud:We fact-checked President Trump's speech about the election. Here's what we found.

Trump prematurely declared victory, even as hundreds of thousands of ballots had yet to be counted. He threatened to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the counting of legally cast absentee ballots.

— Courtney Subramanian and David Jackson

Democrat triggers investigation of Trump campaign's use of White House

As the president's team has gathered at the White House gaming out reelection scenarios, an independent federal agency is investigating the use of the White House as a campaign "war room," according to Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), who pushed for an investigation. 

The United States Special Counsel is looking into reports the Trump campaign is operating out of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex. That would violate the Hatch Act, which limits political activities of federal employees, Pascrell said.

The Hatch Act excludes the president and vice president.

According to a statement by Pascrell, Trump campaign officials claimed that all equipment — even the WiFi — was paid for by the campaign with no involvement from White House officials. 

— Anthony Zurita, NorthJersey.com

With Michigan ballots counted, judge dismisses Trump campaign's lawsuit

A Michigan judge tossed a legal complaint Thursday filed the day before by the Trump campaign, ruling the campaign lacked evidence and legal basis to warrant judicial intervention. 

The Trump campaign had asked a judge to temporarily halt vote counting, arguing a Republican poll watcher was denied sustained "meaningful access" to an absentee ballot counting site in Oakland County.

Like other states, Michigan allows observers from opposing campaigns to monitor vote counting. This is a normal part of the election process, intended to give both parties the opportunity to ensure the law is followed when people vote and ballots are tabulated.

— Dave Boucher and Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press

Contributing: Kevin McCoy, Kevin Johnson, Courtney Subramanian and David Jackson, USA TODAY;  Dave Boucher, Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press; Dylan Segelbaum, York Daily Record, Crissa Shoemaker DeBree, Bucks County Courier Times; Will Peebles, Savannah Morning News; The Associated Press