President Trump’s team launched a series of lawsuits in key battlefield states that seemed less of legal common sense and more of a slowing of Joe Biden than walking above the threshold of the electoral vote.
Sometimes, lawsuits have challenged the two-digit votes – hundreds if not thousands of votes – far from any potential outcome for any state.
“Admitting defeat is not a reasonable response soon after the election, so they have thrown a lot of Hill Mary’s lawsuits on the wall and hope something will continue,” said Ben Ginsberg, a longtime Republican election attorney and contributor to CNN. These types of suits, he said, are not indicative of an optimistic campaign – instead, a pushback.
“I think a lot of the litigation was out of reach and unlikely to work,” said Franita Tolson, a law professor at USC Gould Law School and a contributor to CNN.
She cited a lawsuit in Georgia announced by the Trump campaign on Wednesday night about a poll worker mixing unprocessed ballot papers. She said that might affect a small number of votes.
“I doubt the big goal of this litigation is, in the short term, to change the narrative” from a possible Biden victory to a conversation about election mismanagement or even fraud, Tolson said.
Rick Hasen, another law professor and a CNN shareholder, said the lawsuits looked more like public relations than serious litigation. He said, “These lawsuits so far do not address any major problem that seems to call the total vote totals to questions.”
Justin Levitt, an election expert and other professor of law, described some of the lawsuits, such as in Michigan, as “laughable”.
“Someone says you didn’t put people through absentee drop boxes, so stop counting. Huh ?!”
Even a Republican-appointed federal judge in Pennsylvania questioned the validity of a suit from the Republicans on Wednesday, when they challenged fewer than 100 ballot papers that were corrected by absentee voters in a county outside of Philadelphia. At a Wednesday morning hearing, the judge, Timothy Savage, did not rule, but indicated that the GOP censors attorney was seeking to disqualify the vote. He indicated that the lawsuit appeared to have other problems with its arguments.
Soon some legal challenges in Pennsylvania from the Trump campaign were dismissed on Election Day, as Trump promoted his appeal to these losses apparently as new cases on Wednesday. For example, an Election Day judge in Philadelphia dropped the Trump campaign case regarding access to ballot processing, writing that “the observers are only directed to monitor the votes, not vet them,” and determined that the city’s election board complied with the law. A judge rejected another Election Day challenge from the Trump campaign to the poll monitoring operation in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, near Philly as well, though Trump is now resuming, according to Pennsylvania court records.
Trump campaign attorneys filed a lawsuit in Nevada on Tuesday, claiming that their monitors were not given adequate access to all aspects of the vote count – from opening ballots, to checking automatic and manual signature and copying of damaged ballots. A Nevada judge denied a Republican challenge to early voting in a Democratic-majority county.
“If a last-minute lawsuit is successful, it will require a major change in how it is done [Nevada] Address absentee [ballots] To determine whether the signature on the ballot matches the signature of the previous voter on the file, Richard Bildies, a professor of constitutional law at New York University and an election law analyst at CNN, said. “Courts are usually unwilling to allow plaintiffs to come to the door too late in the day and demand major changes in a process already underway.”
However, one of the lawsuits, the petition filed with the US Supreme Court regarding the Pennsylvania polling deadline, could be a more serious legal challenge. It is contesting the validity of the many thousands of votes that voters were likely to cast in good faith, but which officials obtained after the election through the mail.
For this case to make a difference, Pennsylvania would need to be the state in the election, and the margin for difference between Trump and Biden would need a few tens of thousands of votes.
CNN’s Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson contributed to this report.