Trump presses election case in court
Politics | The president takes myriad voting concerns before judges
by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 11/12/20, 05:44 pm
President Donald Trump’s claims of systematic voter fraud and tens of thousands of ineligible ballots have yet to lead to changes that could affect the outcome of the election. But a few cases still up in the air could get minor results, as well as serve as a crucial test of the trustworthiness of the American electoral process.
Marc Clauson, professor of history and law at Cedarville University, told The World and Everything in It podcast that ensuring the process was fraud-free remains vital.
“If we don’t have confidence that our elections take place freely and completely fairly and openly, then we begin to lose confidence in the whole system itself,” he said.
By the Associated Press’ estimate, Trump trails Biden in multiple swing states and would need to flip at least two of those to win the election. Those states include Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes; Michigan, with 16; Arizona, with 11; Wisconsin, with 10; and Nevada, with six. Trump needs to take at least 22 Electoral College votes from Biden given the existing AP map.
The president’s first recourse is recounts. In Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Biden leads by between 10,000 and 50,000 votes. Although some votes are still being counted, presidential recounts have never reversed that many ballots before. FairVote, an election research group, reported this month that statewide recounts typically change the margin of victory by an average of 430 votes.
Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Michigan’s laws don’t allow for a recount given how large Biden’s lead is in those states as of Thursday afternoon. Biden could widen the electoral gap even more in Georgia, which the AP has not called yet. He leads Trump by about 14,000 votes, or about 0.3 percentage points. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday he would initiate an audit of the presidential vote count in his state, which involves a recount by hand over the next week and a half. If the recount revealed extensive errors in tabulating the vote, it could help the Trump campaign narrow their investigations in other states.
Trump’s lawyers have filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia. Clauson said the president’s campaign has three major complaints: technical issues, voter fraud, and government overreach to allow the counting of ineligible ballots.
In Pennsylvania, the president’s attorneys asked a court to stop the certification process on Monday, saying an official changed ballots with Trump votes to other candidates, sent ballots with issues back to voters for them to fix, and didn’t allow Trump campaign members to oversee the count closely. Trump supporters have filed at least 15 suits in that state alone.
Some individuals are still coming forward with claims of fraudulent activity. A postal worker in Pennsylvania told Project Veritas that other employees backdated ballots that arrived after the deadline. The House Oversight Committee tweeted Tuesday its members believed the whistleblower recanted his allegations, but Project Veritas tweeted Wednesday that he claimed federal agents coerced him into changing his story. That investigation is ongoing.
MLive reported Wednesday that Trump campaign adviser James Bopp Jr. will represent several voters who filed a suit in Michigan demanding the disqualification of 1.2 million votes from Wayne, Washtenaw, and Ingham counties based on claims of fraud and tampering.
Several lower courts have already struck down Trump’s challenges to the election process. A Michigan judge rejected a different Trump campaign claim of inappropriate ballot counting last week. And a local judge in Georgia denied an appeal to disqualify 50 ballots a poll watcher claimed arrived late.
Trump has two legal victories so far in Pennsylvania: On Nov. 5 a state judge found officials had to let the president’s campaign workers stand within six feet rather than 10 feet of the ballot counters. In another case, a judge on Thursday ruled the state’s secretary of state didn't have the authority to extend a Nov. 9 deadline for voters to fix problems regarding identification. Judges will hold hearings on two Pennsylvania cases next week, and a Detroit judge plans to rule Friday on a Michigan case, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Clauson said Trump has an uphill battle to overturn results in enough states to win the election. He noted the president could win some legal actions and still lose the presidency. Even if Trump could win enough challenges in Pennsylvania to flip the state, Biden would have the exact minimum majority of 270 electoral votes, with Georgia still up in the air.
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