Election Law

Trump campaign brings legal challenges in several battleground states with success in 1 suit

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The Trump campaign has filed recent lawsuits in several battleground states and has called for a recount in Wisconsin.

The campaign sued in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, and sought to intervene in a pending Pennsylvania case seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of the state’s extended deadline for mail-in ballots.

Publications with coverage include the Associated Press, Bloomberg Law, Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Law360.

The Pennsylvania and Michigan suits seek to stop the vote count until GOP observers get more access to the process, while the Georgia suit focuses on the counting procedure in Chatham County.

An appeals court in Pennsylvania ruled for the Trump campaign Thursday in an access case filed in Philadelphia County. In an order, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania said observers should be allowed to watch all parts of the vote count “within 6 feet.”

President Donald Trump has said he would be going to the Supreme Court in election battles. But it’s not that easy, said Joshua Douglas, a professor at the University of Kentucky’s J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

“You can’t bring a case directly to the Supreme Court in an election dispute,” Douglas told the Washington Post. “And there’s no legal cause of action that says, ‘Stop the count and declare me the winner.’ ”

Among the GOP actions:

• The Trump campaign announced Thursday that it would file a lawsuit in Nevada claiming that as many as 10,000 people voted in the state, even though they no longer live there, USA Today reports.

• A Michigan lawsuit by the Trump campaign seeks to halt the vote count until the GOP gets meaningful access to the process and seeks review of ballots opened and counted when there was no such access. The campaign also wants to segregate ballots dropped off in ballot drop boxes until it can review video footage of the boxes to ensure that there was no fraud. A judge said Thursday that the vote count was essentially over and she wouldn’t grant the GOP request to stop the count, the Washington Post reports.

• A lawsuit filed in Chatham County, Georgia, alleges that absentee ballots were being accepted past the deadline. The suit also claims that a GOP poll watcher saw late ballots being illegally added to on-time ballots. But the observer’s declaration, attached to the lawsuit, only said he did not see what happened to 53 late-arriving ballots when he left the room, according to Law360. On Thursday, a judge refused to toss the disputed ballots, the Washington Post reports.

• A lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania alleges that Bucks County wrongly disclosed ballot errors to party observers seeking to help voters make corrections. And in Philadelphia County, the Trump campaign alleged that it was wrongly denied meaningful access to the vote count at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on election night, according to the Washington Post and Law360.

A judge had ruled against the GOP. It was that ruling that was reversed by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on Thursday when it ordered greater access to the count.

Other lawsuits are also pending in Pennsylvania. A lawsuit filed by a GOP congressional candidate in Montgomery County seeks to discard mail-in ballots in which voters were allowed to fix errors, according to the Washington Post. Another lawsuit claims that the Pennsylvania secretary of state wrongly advised county officials to help resolve voter errors.

Writing on his Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of California at Irvine School of Law, pointed out that litigation won’t change the election unless enough votes are at stake to make a difference.

“The only way the 2020 presidential election ends up being decided by the courts,” Hasen wrote, “is if there is a dispute in a state that is central to an electoral college victory, and that the dispute in that state is so close (or there is such a massive failure in the election) that the election is within the margin of litigation.”

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “No new wave of election lawsuits emerged Tuesday; which pending cases could make a difference?”

Story updated on Nov. 6 to include developments in Michigan and Georgia.

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