US President Donald Trump swears that he will challenge his election defeat in court. His campaign team, the Republican Party and Trump supporters have filed lawsuits in several major swing states, but the promised legal successes have not yet materialized.
Team Trump has little legal success
Trump and his associates have launched 17 lawsuits since election day, Nov. 3, and promise more. Although those matters differ in details, the intended end goal is the same: to prevent states from confirming final election results in the coming weeks and to prevent Democrat Joe Biden from being elected president by the Electoral College in mid-December.
The Trump team and the Republican Party frequently ask voters for donations to fund legal battles and recounts. From the fine print however, it appears that by far the most money will not be used for this, but will end up in the coffers of the party and that of a political action committee of the president.
Trump and his allies’ attack strategies can be broadly divided into two categories: allegations of irregularities during the electoral process and complaints about the divergent rules for processing postal votes between different counties in a state.
Things don’t really go smoothly for the president. Last Friday, cases in Michigan and Pennsylvania were lost and the Trump campaign itself ended a case in Arizona, as a win wouldn’t change the election outcome.
Republicans also dropped four other trials on Monday, including one in Pennsylvania, the most substantial attack on election results to date. The allegation was that the state violated the fundamental rights of voters by allowing procedures for processing postal votes to differ slightly from county to county. The law firm representing Trump withdrew from that case last Thursday.
So far, Trump’s team has had only one legal victory: a Pennsylvania judge ruled that a small number of postal votes received after Nov. 3 from voters who had not properly identified should be rejected. The votes in question had not yet been counted, so that makes no difference to the current result in that state.
Trump insists Biden’s victory was due to widespread electoral fraud. No credible evidence of this has yet been presented in any court case, and none of the allegations involve a number of votes large enough to make a difference to the winner in that state.
Last Friday, a Michigan judge dismissed a case brought by two Republican Party poll watchers. They claimed that Detroit vote counters were fraudulent and asked the judge to invalidate more than 867,000 votes from across the county (Wayne). However, he concluded that the pair simply did not understand how the counting process works.
In another case in the same state, the evidence was a statement by a Republican pollwatcher, who claimed that an unnamed person had told her they had heard from still others that they had been ordered to change the date on some ballots. “‘I heard someone say something,” the judge responded. “Explain to me how that is not hearsay? Come on.”
“The Trump campaign continues to hope to find a judge who will handle lawsuits as if they were tweets,” Loyola Law School scientist Justin Levitt said. CNN, referring to the non-binding nature of utterances on Twitter. “Time and again, every person in a toga they come across has said, ‘Sorry, we’re dealing with justice here.'”