A family visits the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. The Trump campaign is seeking to intervene in a Pennsylvania case at the Supreme Court that deals with whether ballots received up to three days after the election can be counted. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A family visits the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. The Trump campaign is seeking to intervene in a Pennsylvania case at the Supreme Court that deals with whether ballots received up to three days after the election can be counted. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Trump sues in 3 states, laying ground for contesting outcome

To some election law experts, calling for the Supreme Court to intervene now seemed premature

As Democrat Joe Biden inched closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, President Donald Trump’s campaign put into action the legal strategy the president had signalled for weeks: attacking the integrity of the voting process in states where the result could mean his defeat.

Democrats scoffed at the legal challenges the president’s campaign filed Wednesday in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Those largely demand better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted.

Early Thursday, a separate Trump campaign lawsuit in Georgia over concerns about 53 absentee ballots was dismissed by a judge after county elections officials testified that all of those ballots had been received on time.

The Associated Press called Michigan for Biden on Wednesday. The AP has not called Georgia, Nevada or Pennsylvania.

Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer on Thursday called the Trump campaign’s lawsuits meritless.

“I want to emphasize that for their purposes these lawsuits don’t have to have merit. That’s not the purpose. … It is to create an opportunity for them to message falsely about what’s taking place in the electoral process,” Bauer said, accusing the Trump campaign of “continually alleging irregularities, failures of the system and fraud without any basis.”

But Trump campaign officials accused Democrats of trying to steal the election, despite no evidence anything of the sort was taking place.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, in a call with reporters Thursday morning, said that “every night the president goes to bed with a lead” and every night new votes “are mysteriously found in a sack.”

Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said additional legal action was expected and would be focused on giving campaign officials access to view ballots being counted.

“We will literally be going through every single ballot,” he said of the count in hotly contested Nevada.

Trump’s campaign has also announced that it will ask for a recount in Wisconsin, also a state the AP called for Biden on Wednesday. Stepien previously cited “irregularities in several Wisconsin counties,” without providing specifics.

Biden said Wednesday the count should continue in all states, adding, “No one’s going to take our democracy away from us — not now, not ever.”

Vote counting, meanwhile, stretched into Thursday. In every election, results reported on election night are unofficial and ballot counting extends past Election Day. This year, states were contending with an avalanche of mail ballots driven by fears of voting in person during a pandemic.

Mail ballots normally take more time to verify and count. And results were expected to take longer this year because there are so many mail ballots and a close race.

The lawsuits the Trump campaign filed in Michigan and Pennsylvania on Wednesday called for a temporary halt in the counting until it is given “meaningful” access in numerous locations and allowed to review ballots that already have been opened and processed.

The AP’s Michigan call for Biden came after the suit was filed. The president is ahead in Pennsylvania, but his margin is shrinking as more mailed ballots are counted. The state had 3.1 million mail ballots, and a court order allows ballots received in the mail to be counted until Friday if they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

VIDEO: More than a dozen arrested in U.S. cities as protesters demand vote count

On Thursday, a state appellate court ordered a Philadelphia judge to ensure that party and candidate observers can get up close to election workers processing mail-in ballots in the city. The decision came after the Trump campaign complained Tuesday that its observer could not get close enough to election workers to see the writing on the mail-in ballot envelopes, to ensure that the envelope contains a signature and an eligible voter’s name and address. Ballots without that kind of information could be challenged or disqualified.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said in a CNN interview the Trump campaign’s lawsuit was “more a political document than a legal document.”

“There is transparency in this process. The counting has been going on. There are observers observing this counting, and the counting will continue,” he said.

The Michigan lawsuit claims Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers. Michigan Democrats said the suit was a longshot. Poll watchers from both sides were plentiful Wednesday at one major polling place in question, the TCF Center in Detroit, the AP observed.

The Georgia lawsuit filed in Chatham County essentially asked the judge to ensure the state laws are being followed on absentee ballots. Campaign officials said earlier they were considering similar challenges in a dozen other counties around the state.

Trump, addressing supporters at the White House early Wednesday, talked about taking the undecided race to the Supreme Court. Though it was unclear what he meant, his comments evoked a reprise of the court’s intervention in the 2000 presidential election, which ended with a decision effectively handing the presidency to George W. Bush.

But there are important differences from 2000 and they already are on display. In 2000, Republican-controlled Florida was the critical state and Bush clung to a small lead. Democrat Al Gore asked for a recount and the Supreme Court stopped it.

To some election law experts, calling for the Supreme Court to intervene now seemed premature, if not rash.

A case would have to come to the court from a state in which the outcome would determine the election’s winner, Richard Hasen, a University of California, Irvine, law professor, wrote on the Election Law blog. The difference between the candidates’ vote totals would have to be smaller than the ballots at stake in the lawsuit.

“As of this moment (though things can change) it does not appear that either condition will be met,” Hasen wrote.

___

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Washington, Ben Nadler in Atlanta, John Flesher in Traverse City, Mich., Mike Householder and Ed White in Detroit, Nomaan Merchant in Houston, Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, Calif., and David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.

Mark Sherman And Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpJoe BidenUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Construction is expected to start in March of 2021 on 23 new rental homes funded by the provincial government’s Community Housing Fund. (Metro Creative photo)
Province announces rental home project in Chilliwack paid for by Community Housing Fund

Twenty three homes for Indigenous families are planned in partnership with Tzeachten First Nation

Canadian Red Cross staff engaged in a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social distancing training exercise. (Luc Alary / Canadian Red Cross)
Red Cross canvassers following PHO guidelines while going door-to-door

Canvassers using safety protocols including masks and distancing to continue organization’s efforts

Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl, pictured here in 2017, has harsh words about the federal government’s Fall Economic Statement. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack MP Mark Strahl says Liberal government is leaving millions of Canadians behind

Strahl delivered a blistering critique of the federal government’s Fall Economic Statement

Phyllis Stenson, a mainstay of the local arts scene and the Harrison Festival of the Arts, passed away earlier this month. Stenson was crucial in setting up the foundation for relationships, funding and more that continue even now to echo well past her retirement in 2013. (Contributed Photo/Harrison Festival Society)
Harrison Festival, Fraser Valley arts icon Phyllis Stenson mourned

Stenson passed away in late November, leaving lasting legacy of passion for the arts behind

Elkhart Gas Station, located on Highway 97C about 60 kilometres west of Peachland, opened in November 2020. (Google maps)
The Okanagan Connector now has a gas station

The highway previously ran for over 117 kilometres without a place to fuel up

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Suspect tries to thwart police in Abbotsford with false 911 call about men with guns

Man twice sped away from officers and then tried to throw them off his trail

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read