Image courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel
by Shannon Rose Miekka
“Count the Votes!”
“Stop the Count!”
On Election Day, supporters of President Trump gathered at polling places across the country. In Arizona, they wanted all legal votes to be counted, but in Michigan, they chanted for the vote to stop.
“Frankly, we did win this election,” the president said on the night of the election. “We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”
After five days of counting and verifying results, Democratic Nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden was called the winner of the 2020 presidential race on November 7.
CNN, NBC News, CBS News, the Associated Press, and even Fox News projected Biden to be the next president of the United States, yet Trump’s team has expressed frustration with the media “calling” the election.
Trump’s Claims of Voter Fraud
Several of the president’s tweets since Election Day have been marked as potentially fraudulent.
Source: Donald J. Trump’s Twitter
The President primed his supporters for months leading up to the election to cast doubt on the election results. He told tales of “ballots that say Trump” being dumped into rivers, millions of dead people voting, and the secretive and biased process of counting the votes.
“Our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” Trump said in a statement on November 7. “The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots.”
As of November 17, the Trump campaign has filed at least 17 lawsuits in state and federal courts. Most of the cases are targeting key battleground states, including seven lawsuits in Pennsylvania, five in Arizona, three in Nevada, and two in Georgia.
Most of the lawsuits fall into two categories: poll-watcher lawsuits and absentee ballot lawsuits.
The lawsuits concerning poll observers argue that the poll watchers were too far away or not allowed to observe.
In Nevada, Trump’s team filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two clients: Chris Prudhome, a Republican poll watcher in Clark County, and Jill Stokke, who alleged she wasn’t able to vote because someone had already fraudulently voted under her name.
Prudhome, a senior advisor to the state Republican party, claimed that he was not allowed to observe the vote count. He arrived at the court at 12:45 a.m. the morning after election day, and the county officials told him that the counting was over for the night.
Prudhome also claimed to be removed improperly, but the county attorney testified that he was actually removed for trying to record the counting process, which is not allowed.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon denied the injunction, citing a lack of evidence that Nevada procedure was violated. Gordon ruled that the procedure was public, and Prudhome’s presence proves it.
“You’re asking me to impose some new standard or strictures or guidelines,” Judge Gordon said in response. “Do we have to provide microphones? … At what point does this get into the ridiculous?”
Trump’s team tweeted that Jill Stokke, the face of the lawsuit, had her ballot stolen, but in fact, Ms. Stokke never claimed as such. During the proceedings, the federal judge even warned Stokke’s lawyer that she may have committed perjury. The case was subsequently dropped.
The lawsuits in Pennsylvania are likely the most consequential— 20 electoral college votes are at stake, the vote differential between Biden and Trump is relatively slim, and the cases have already gained the attention of the Supreme Court.
Trump claimed that they had “big” legal wins in the state, however Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro disagreed.
“I’m not going to get into a rhetorical battle with the president … but it’s hardly a big win,” Shapiro said after the court decision that allowed observers in Philadelphia to stand a few feet closer. “It has no effect on the outcome of this election.”
Trump’s own legal team seems to be on a different page from the president. In Pennsylvania, Trump’s lawyer Jonathan Goldstein had the following exchange with the judge.
Portion of the Lawsuit Transcript, courtesy of PhillyMag
Even if these claims were substantiated with evidence, it is unlikely that a judge could or would invalidate the election. Without evidence of actual widespread ballot fraud, a court cannot invalidate a single ballot, let alone the entire election.
Calls for Concession
The response of key members from the President’s party is crucial. Some key Republicans, like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have doubled down on their support.
“Don’t accept the media’s declaration,” the South Carolina Senator said to Fox News on November 8. “Don’t concede, Mr. President. Fight hard.”
The majority of Republican leadership have taken the more modest approach of “humoring” the President. While not claiming that the election was rigged, they haven’t called for the president to drop the voter fraud claims.
“The President is within his rights to request recounts, to call for investigation of alleged voting irregularities where evidence exists, and to exhaust legal remedies— doing these things is consistent with our election process,” tweeted Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT). “He is wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupt, and stolen— doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world.”
Other Republicans have congratulated President-Elect Joe Biden and called for Trump to concede.
“To win, Mr. Trump must prove systemic fraud, with illegal votes in the tens of thousands,” Rove wrote. “There is no evidence of that so far.”
A group of 30 former Republican House members signed a statement calling for Trump to accept his election defeat.
“We believe the statements by President Trump alleging fraud in the election are efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the election and are unacceptable,” the signatories wrote. “Going forward it is our hope the nation will, regardless of party or persuasion, recognize that President-Elect Joe Biden has won this election.”
“Most Secure Election in American history”
The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, established by President Trump in November 2018, is a standalone US federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security. The CISA released a statement on November 12.
“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” the CISA statement reads. “Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result… There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Team Trump’s Narrow Path to “Victory”
If Trump wants to overturn the election results, the Trump campaign would need to win lawsuits in multiple states, but he is zero for seventeen so far. In order to swing at least 20 electoral votes, at least three states would have to flip their election results by at least 10,000 votes.
Out of more than 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014, there have been only 31 incidents of voter impersonation.
If he keeps losing his lawsuits, Trump’s other option is a recount. Recounts are expensive and rarely change election results, especially with margins as wide as Biden’s. In fact, a recount is more likely to increase the winner’s lead. No federal recount has ever changed the results by more than a tenth of a percent.
On November 19, the Georgia recount results affirmed Biden’s win of the state and its 16 electoral votes. The full hand recount of the state’s 5 million votes narrowed Biden’s lead over President Trump in Georgia, but not nearly enough to change the result.
“The irony of [Trump] saying ‘fraudulent votes have been found’ — he has gained in the finding of these votes,” Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager said.
Publicly, Team Trump is claiming that the process was rigged, but they have yet to provide any evidence of voter fraud, while his own lawyers have ultimately agreed with every judge that the process was fair and bipartisan.
So while Trump insists that he won the election, his claims continue to be flagged as “Fake News.”
Source: Donald J. Trump’s Twitter