By Philip Baillargeon
In the days leading up to the official certification of the results of the November election next month, the Trump campaign has been receiving attention for its efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the vote count in enough states that could overturn the results of the election. However, this energy is misplaced; recounts and other litigation measures usually amount to an average change of a few hundred votes across the entire state. The closest margin challenged is a Biden lead of approximately 13,000 votes in Arizona and a similar margin in Georgia. Only an act of extremely widespread voter fraud (on a scale never before seen in this country) could change these results, and the Trump campaign has presented little evidence that indicates such an event occurred. Here is a general rundown of what the Trump campaign is alleging in court, and why the results will be certified on time, making Joe Biden the next President of the United States.
Arizona: We begin with the “keep counting” state of Arizona. In most states, Team Trump has filed lawsuits to stop counting largely Democratic absentee ballots. However, in the state of Arizona, the relatively Republican Maricopa County was the last outstanding county after election night. This is also the home of the famous “Sharpie-Gate” scandal, in which Trump voters alleged their votes weren’t being counted because they were purposefully given fine point Sharpies instead of pens to fill out their ballots, invalidating their votes because the Sharpie bled through the other side of the ballot. The state of Arizona has always used Sharpies because they dry more quickly than regular pens. In a surreal moment, as this case only challenged the validity of less than 200 votes and would certainly not change the results, a witness denied she had any basis to believe her vote was not counted and the case was dropped. President-elect Joe Biden leads in this state by 11,000 votes with 99% of precincts reporting.
Georgia: The source of the greatest Election Night drama; a burst pipe in a facility in Atlanta delayed the count of several absentee votes, which made it appear as if President Trump had retained the state that had not voted for a Democrat since Bill Clinton. However, as President Trump’s team challenged the count of absentee ballots and a count and recount have passed, Joe Biden holds a lead of around 13,000 votes. The election results have already been certified, but Georgia is not done for this election cycle; there will be two Senate elections in January to decide control of the Senate. Expect the political world to flock to Georgia in the months ahead.
Michigan: Republican poll watchers and the Trump campaign have filed six main challenges to the count in Michigan, and all cases were dismissed. Most litigation centers around Wayne County, which includes Detroit, and attempts to invalidate votes in the highly Democratic areas within the city. Plaintiffs demonstrated a lack of knowledge pertaining to the vote count; they cried fraud when election workers entered placeholder dates for missing birthdays (a common practice), claims of intimidation when a Democratic poll worker called a Republican poll watcher a “Karen” (which is not expressly forbidden by the state of Michigan), and claims of fraud because of overwhelmingly Democratic absentee ballots (after President Trump spent most of his campaign encouraging supporters to vote in person). Michigan Republicans have declined to send their own slate of electors in December, a last ditch effort for President Trump that included a visit to D.C. to supposedly discuss this course of action. President-elect Joe Biden leads in this state by over 150,000 votes.
Pennsylvania: One of the only wins in court for the Trump campaign was that poll watchers could stand six feet away instead of ten. That was the only win in court the campaign had for weeks, and it will not change the results of the election. Republican lawyers have been able to “segregate” ballots arriving after November 3rd but postmarked by Election Day, however, these votes will not make any difference in the final results. Only a few thousand ballots have been set aside for this unique circumstance, and Biden leads in the state by about 80,000 votes. The Trump campaign’s attempt to stop the count here has been unsuccessful.
Wisconsin: Like Georgia, Wisconsin has counted and recounted; Joe Biden has won this state by 20,000 votes. The one case filed here tells a similar tale; allegations of fraud by anonymous Republican voters were dismissed in a matter of days.
Nevada: The heavily Democratic Clark County, which was slow in its count of absentee ballots, flipped this state from Trump to Biden by about 34,000 votes. Republican lawyers challenged these votes, claiming more should be rejected for non-matching signatures and the certified results in the state should be annulled. The courts did no such thing; machines rejected absentee ballots at a rate consistent with the average rate in past elections, and those who claimed their ballots were submitted fraudulently without their knowledge refused to submit provisional ballots to correct the supposed error.
With no evidence, an incredible amount of unsubstantiated claims later retracted, and a margin that is too large to overcome with recounts, the Trump campaign has run out of options. They will likely not concede, but they certainly will not win. This is not an attempt to subvert democracy more than it is an attempt to hobble the Biden Presidency; time will tell whether those efforts will be more successful than these court filings.