Trump’s dwindling prospects to overturn the election: a guide

So far, in virtually every court case, judges have rejected the Trump campaign’s claims, which in effect have called for nullifying the results of the popular vote and awarding electors to Trump instead. (There’s often a wide gap between what is argued in court, where there can be penalties for false claims, and what Trump says in public.) Moreover, Attorney General William P. Barr told the Associated Press on Tuesday that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Given the scattershot legal maneuvering of the Trump campaign and its allies, here’s a quick guide to where things stand in each state. Essentially, Trump seeks to toss out hundreds of thousands of votes on highly technical grounds, even though the courts generally do not invalidate ballots if voters acted in good faith. Moreover, even if Trump found success in one state, he would need to reverse the results in at least three states if he wanted to overcome Biden’s margin in the electoral college.

Georgia

What Happened: Biden won the state by nearly 13,000 votes, after a hand recount. The vote has been certified by the secretary of state, a Republican, and affirmed by the governor, also a Republican, but the Trump campaign has requested a second recount.

Trump’s Claim: The governor, Brian Kemp, should invoke emergency powers, overrule the secretary of state, and order a match of signatures on envelopes of absentee votes. Trump contends that this would show that many of the absentee ballots were fraudulent. He has also suggested that machines provided by Dominion Voting Systems improperly changed the result in favor of Biden.

The Reality: Under Georgia law, Kemp has no authority to intervene in elections. Moreover, voter signatures were already checked, twice — when voters requested ballots and when their ballots were returned. The ballots and the envelopes that contained them have since been separated, so Trump’s demand is impossible to achieve. As for the voting machines, the hand count confirmed the accuracy of the machine count.

Pennsylvania

What Happened: Biden won the state by nearly 81,000 votes, and the vote has been certified. Trump’s various lawsuits have been dismissed, often in scathing terms by judges.

Trump’s Claim: The president has made a number of debunked claims, including that people falsely cast ballots on behalf of others, that ballots were mysteriously added in the middle of the night in Philadelphia and that 2.5 million mail-in ballots were illegally cast because of the way the GOP-led legislature approved a no-excuse voting system earlier in the year.

The Reality: These claims have been repeatedly rejected by judges. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed the call to reject mail-in ballots, saying Trump’s allies waited too long to sue, given that two elections had already taken place under the new system. That case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Arizona

What Happened: Biden won the state by about 10,500 votes, and the vote has been certified by the secretary of state, a Democrat, and the governor, a Republican.

Trump’s Claim: The president and his allies have alleged fraud in the state’s mail-in balloting system. Trump has also attacked, in harsh terms, Gov. Doug Ducey for certifying the election and saying Arizona’s election system is strong.

The Reality: No evidence of fraud has emerged, though Trump is now free to pursue election challenges. “We’ve got ID at the polls,” Ducey said in a Twitter thread responding to Trump. “We review EVERY signature (every single one) on early ballots — by hand — unlike other states that use computers.”

Wisconsin

What Happened: Biden won the state by more than 20,000 votes, a margin that increased slightly after the Trump campaign paid $3 million to recount votes in two heavily Democratic counties. The vote has been certified.

Trump’s Claim: The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit claiming that as a result of the recount, it discovered some 220,000 ballots were cast “well outside of the bounds of Wisconsin law” and so should be thrown out. For instance, election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted, a practice approved by the state elections commission. So rather than arguing that voter fraud occurred or even that individual voters committed wrongdoing, Trump is seeking to throw out votes on the grounds that election clerks misinterpreted state law.

The Reality: These claims were already rejected during the recount, and the lawsuit is given little chance of success. Moreover, even if Trump had a case, similar problems would also affect ballots cast for him.

Nevada

What Happened: Biden won the state by about 33,500 votes, and the results have been certified by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Trump’s Claim: Trump and his allies alleged vast voter fraud, including claims that people who no longer lived in the state voted in the election. But the federal lawsuit was dropped in recent days. (Many of the alleged out-of-state voters had compelling reasons, such as serving in the military.) Still, Trump has touted the fact that a judge “has ordered Clark County officials to allow an inspection of the elections equipment and sealed containers used in the 2020 election” ahead of a Dec. 3 hearing at which his team claims it will present evidence of fraud.

The Reality: Nevada state law allows both parties to inspect a sealed container of test results, and the judge’s order did not mention inspection of election equipment. It is doubtful this case will fare any better than Trump’s other court cases.

Michigan

What Happened: Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes, and the results have been certified.

Trump’s claim: Despite a significant gap in votes, Trump was especially aggressive in Michigan, claiming that sweeping fraud during the counting of absentee ballots in Detroit was responsible for his loss. He even tried to sway GOP state legislators to ignore the outcome and award him the state’s 16 electors, even though they do not appear to have the legal authority to do so. The campaign has appealed the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging fraud in Wayne County filed shorty after the election. Detroit is in Wayne County.

The Reality: None of Trump’s claims have fared well in court, with judges dismissing the claims as being based on hearsay or lacking credibility.

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