Donald Trump’s US election lawsuits: Where do things stand?

Donald Trump’s campaign files several longshot legal challenges in a bid to reverse Joe Biden’s projected triumph in the US presidential election.

US President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]
US President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

United States President Donald Trump is pushing ahead with legal challenges to his election defeat as top Republicans in the US Congress refused to recognise Democrat Joe Biden as President-elect.

Biden was projected as the winner of the presidential election by US media on Saturday, after surpassing the 270 electoral votes required to win.

But the Trump campaign has filed more than a dozen lawsuits across five states since Election Day in an attempt to reverse the outcome. In a statement released after Biden was projected as the winner, Trump said his campaign “will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated”.

Trump has spread baseless allegations that fraud was marring election results and his team has launched legal challenges in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Georgia, and Arizona. The campaign has also said it would request a recount in Wisconsin, citing “irregularities” in several counties

Senior Republicans have continued to publicly support the president’s legal strategy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended Trump’s pursuit of court cases on Monday, saying Trump was “100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities”, without citing any evidence.

Here is a guide to the lawsuits filed in each state and where they currently stand.

Pennsylvania

Trump’s campaign has filed several lawsuits in the state of Pennsylvania since Election Day. Philadelphia may prove to be a critical component in Trump’s battle to prove that the election was “stolen” from him.

As expected, more Republicans turned out for in-person voting on November 3, while more Democrats chose to vote by mail. Since the state counted votes cast in person on election day first and only began counting mail-in votes on November 4 in line with state election rules, early counts on the day showed Trump with a lead. As mail-in ballots were counted and added to the totals in the following days, Trump’s lead diminished and by Saturday, Biden held a lead deemed sufficient to be projected as the winner.

While it is normal for it to take several days to fully count ballots, Trump’s campaign has suggested without evidence that this shift from Trump to Biden was due to fraud.

Trump’s team has pursued a variety of legal options in the state. It filed a lawsuit asking Philadelphia election officials to halt the counting of ballots. A federal judge quickly dismissed the request. The campaign team has also filed documents asking Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and all 67 counties to impose an earlier date for voters to show proof of identification if it was not on their initial ballot. While litigation is continuing, the presiding judge ordered all counties to segregate ballots if voter identification was not received by November 9.

Additionally, the Trump team filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court, claiming that its observers were not permitted to get close enough to properly observe ballot counting in Philadelphia. The campaign team insisted that they deserved “meaningful” access to various locations, as well as the ability to review already processed ballots. The court ruled that the Trump campaign’s observers could move closer to the ballot processing, which Trump touted as a “big legal win” in a tweet on Friday.

Trump achieved another minor legal win on Friday when Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito approved the Republicans’ request to ensure that county election officials in Pennsylvania were segregating mail-in ballots received after Election Day. However, Alito did not order election officials to stop the counting of ballots.

Trump’s campaign had previously submitted documents asking to join in on an already existing dispute before the US Supreme Court on whether ballots received after Election Day should count. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has already ruled that mail-in ballots received up to three days after the election can be counted.

On Friday, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro responded by filing papers at the Supreme Court to oppose Trump’s intervention in the pending case, stating that the state Republican Party is “capable and willing” to make all necessary arguments and that the Trump campaign “has not provided any justification for its delay in seeking intervention in the court.” The case remains ongoing.

On Monday, Trump’s legal team announced that they had filed a new lawsuit in Pennsylvania against Kathy Boockvar to seek an emergency injunction to stop state officials from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state. The campaign cited an unfair election process in which the mail-in voting system “lacked all of the hallmarks of transparency and verifiability that were present for in-person voters” as its main concern. Litigation is continuing.

Michigan

In Michigan Trump’s team has tried to allude to discrepancies in how ballots have been counted throughout the state.

The campaign filed a lawsuit to halt the counting of votes statewide on the grounds that campaign officials had not been given proper access to observe the process. Trump and his campaign once again argued that they wanted “meaningful” access to be able to properly observe the mail-in ballot counting process. According to The Associated Press news agency, the lawsuit claims “Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers.”

The lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Cynthia Stephens last week. Trump’s legal team attempted to appeal the ruling but failed to provide the necessary documents in court.

The campaign on Tuesday said it would file a new lawsuit to halt Michigan from officially certifying Biden’s victory until the state could verify that votes were cast lawfully.

Nevada

In Nevada, a state that Biden is projected to be leading by a thin margin, Trump and his team have filed two lawsuits. The campaign has attempted to challenge both the observing process for the counting of ballots, as well as the legitimacy of the signature verification machines used in Clark County, Nevada.

Prior to Election Day, the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee, and a plaintiff, Fred Krause, filed a lawsuit in Clark County seeking to halt the counting process until they could properly observe the process. They claimed that there was no clear plan in place to ensure a meaningful observation process. A district judge rejected the lawsuit, ruling that there was a lack of evidence to support the argument. The plaintiffs appealed the ruling, and on November 5, the State Supreme Court said that the two sides had reached a settlement.

Late last week, the Trump campaign also filed documents to impose an injunction on the automated signature verification machines used in Clark County, claiming more than 3,000 ineligible voters have been able to cast their ballots. A federal judge rejected the request on November 6, ruling that there is no evidence that Clark County is engaging in improper conduct.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally in Beverly Hills, California, Saturday, November 7, 2020 [Ringo HW Chiu/AP Photo]

Georgia

Trump’s legal team also filed a lawsuit in Georgia seeking to disqualify approximately 53 ballots. This request was based on unsupported allegations made by a poll watcher in Chatham County, who reported seeing late ballots that arrived after the Election Day deadline get mixed in with ballots that had arrived on time.

A Superior Court judge rejected the lawsuit on November 5 after determining that there was no evidence that the ballots had arrived late.

Arizona

On Saturday, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit claiming that voters’ ballots had been wrongfully rejected, thus depriving Trump of “potentially thousands” of votes. After an initial hearing on Monday, it appears that some 180 votes were affected.

The litigation is continuing, with the next hearing scheduled for Thursday. Trump’s legal team will be expected to produce evidence to support their claims.

Nazdar Barzani contributed to this report.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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