While the news networks project Biden as the winner of the presidential election, Trump and his Republican allies have so far refused to concede, arguing that the results were tainted by rampant voter fraud.
So far, the president and his allies have been unable to produce evidence in court of alleged widespread voting irregularities and nearly all legal challenges have so far failed.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, as
President Trump (seen above in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday) is soon likely to exhaust all of its his legal options in his long-shot attempt to overturn the results of the November 3 election
The major news networks on Friday projected Biden as the winner of Georgia, the historically Republican southeastern state and its 16 electoral college votes.
With more than 99 per cent of precincts reporting, Biden is ahead of the president by just 0.3 per cent, or a bit more than 14,000 votes.
Under state law in Georgia, the trailing candidate may request a recount if the victory margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.
Also under Georgia law, one race in the general election must be audited by hand to check that machines counted ballots accurately.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger chose to audit the presidential race and said the tight margin meant a full hand count of ballots was necessary to complete the audit.
Historically, recounts have only resulted in the overturning of several hundred votes, at most.
Trump took to Twitter early on Saturday morning and accused the Republican leadership of the State of Georgia, including Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, of facilitating cheating
It is likely Trump was referring to a lawsuit filed by Georgia attorney L. Lin Wood
The chances of a recount reversing the 14,000 votes that separate Trump and Biden are slim.
Trump took to Twitter early on Saturday morning and accused the Republican leadership of the state, including Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, of facilitating cheating.
‘The Consent Decree signed by the Georgia Secretary of State, with the approval of Governor @BrianKempGA, at the urging of @staceyabrams, makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes, etc.,’ the president tweeted on Saturday.
‘They knew they were going to cheat. Must expose real signatures!’
Trump continued: ‘What are they trying to hide. They know, and so does everyone else. EXPOSE THE CRIME!’
It is likely Trump was referring to a lawsuit filed by Georgia attorney L. Lin Wood.
In court papers filed on Friday, Wood claimed that Raffensperger, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, ‘unilterally, and without the approval or direction of the Georgia General Assembly, changed the process for handling absentee ballots in Georgia, including those case in the general election.’
Jordan Fuchs, Raffensperger’s deputy, issued a statement in response to the lawsuit, saying: ‘Silly baseless claim— grasping.
‘Signature match is intact and the General Assembly passed legislation to allow voters who failed to include a signature time to add one.
‘Fulton County only had one rejected ballot in 2018 and now they have thousands.
‘We strengthened signature match, and will continue to do so, period.’
Meanwhile, a Michigan state court rejected a request by Trump’s supporters to block the certification of votes and appoint an independent auditor in Detroit, which voted heavily in favor of Biden.
A poll worker counts a ballot at the Allegheny County Election Division warehouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 6. Pennsylvania, which went for Joe Biden, is due to certify the election results on November 23
‘It would be an unprecedented exercise of judicial activism for this Court to stop the certification process of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers,’ wrote Timothy Kenny, chief judge of the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan, referring to the county that includes Detroit.
The lawsuit alleged fraud and voting irregularities, which Wayne County has denied.
The judge rejected those allegations, writing: ‘Plaintiffs’ interpretation of events is incorrect and not credible.’
He noted that allegations, such as city workers encouraging voters to cast their ballot for Democrats, were not backed up by details, such as locations or times when such events allegedly took place.
The judge also said that one witness who had filed an affidavit had posted on Facebook before the election that he speculated that Democrats were using the pandemic as cover for election fraud, undermining his testimony and credibility.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign filed a similar lawsuit in US District Court in the Western District of Michigan, alleging harassment of Republican poll challengers and a requirement they adhere to six-foot distancing rules that was not equally enforced against Democratic poll challengers.
Michigan is due to certify its election results on November 23.
Three voters in northeastern Wisconsin have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to exclude election ballots in Milwaukee, Dane and Menominee counties that helped deliver the state to Biden.
The plaintiffs allege without evidence that absentee voting is rife with widespread fraud and that votes in those counties should not be included in the state’s final election certification, which would then give Wisconsin to Trump.
The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, alleges voters in the three counties may have bypassed state law requiring voters to provide a photo ID by declaring themselves ‘indefinitely confined’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The suit also takes issue with clerks’ abilities to take corrective actions to remedy errors related to witness’s addresses on absentee ballots, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
‘Election workers, overwhelmed by the sudden flood of mailed ballots, have less ability to carefully review them to screen out fraudulent ones, creating a substantial risk that fraudulent votes will be counted and vote-dilution disenfranchisement will occur,’ the lawsuit says.
There remained no evidence of any wrongdoing, fraud or irregularity in Wisconsin’s presidential election, as counties worked to wrap up the certification of their votes and their estimates of how much it would cost to recount them, the state’s top elections official said this week.
Biden, the Democratic former vice president, is ahead by tens of thousands of votes in several key states – a margin that experts believe is too big to overturn via recount or any other legal challenge
Thursday’s lawsuit is one of several being brought on behalf of Trump in an effort to change the outcome of the presidential election.
Wisconsin is one of several states Trump is focused on changing, through this lawsuit and also by a potential recount. Biden won in Wisconsin by a margin of about 20,500 votes.
As of Friday, 60 of the state’s 72 counties had certified the results of the election.
There has been little change from unofficial results posted on election night, with Biden gaining 48 votes and Trump picking up 44, giving Biden a net increase of just four votes.
The deadline to certify was on Tuesday and after the last county submits its report Trump has until 5pm the following day to request a recount.
The final step of Wisconsin’s certification process is for the state’s election commission to receive the results from the counties, recheck the numbers, and officially issue totals. The deadline for final certification is December 1.
In Pennsylvania, another critical state that Trump needed to win in order to get a second term, the president’s campaign scored a minor legal victory on Thursday night.
A state court ruled that the secretary of state overstepped her authority by giving citizens additional days to fix signature mismatches on their mail-in ballots.
But the ruling only affects a small number of votes that were not counted in the official tally. Biden is currently ahead in Pennsylvania by 62,000 votes with 98 per cent of the total votes counted.
On Friday, Trump’s lawyers lost when a court ruled that the state could count absentee ballots received after Election Day.
The deadline to certify the results in Pennsylvania is November 23, which means that all of the Keystone State’s 67 counties are due to have their official results filed by that time.
TRUMP’S POSSIBLE ROADMAP TO KEEPING THE WHITE HOUSE
Donald Trump does have a precarious – and politically explosive – path to keeping the White House. To do it he needs to get Joe Biden’s wins in a series of states set aside.
With his claim that the Supreme Court would do that looking to have evaporated, instead he has to use the procedures of the Electoral College to turn it round.
And he needs to do it in a lot of states: if Georgia and Arizona stay on track for Joe Biden, he will have 306 votes, far above the 270 needed. Trump appears to be taking legal action, or intending to, in six states: Pennsylvania, with 20 Electoral College votes; Georgia, with 16; Michigan with 16; Arizona with 11; Wisconsin with 10; and Nevada with six.
He needs to get at least any two of the larger three states plus one more state to go Republican to get Biden under 270.
Here is how he might manage it:
STEP ONE: GET COURTS TO PUT HOLDS ON CERTIFYING THE VOTE IN TARGET STATES
The vote is not official until it is ‘certified’ – that is officially declared valid – which happens later in November. Georgia certifies on November 20, and Nevada and Wisconsin are last on December 1.
Trump is already trying to get certification put on hold in Pennsylvania and Michigan, claiming large-scale irregularities.
OR: GET AN ‘AUDIT’ REQUESTED OR EVEN BETTER ORDERED – AND KEEP IT GOING PAST CERTIFICATION
Michigan Republican state senators have asked for an ‘audit’ claiming that allegations of irregularity need to be looked into. This could be a useful tool if courts don’t come through: at the very least it would allow Republicans to say they don’t trust the certification because it ha snot been audited.
STEP TWO: KEEP THE CERTIFICATION ON HOLD PAST DECEMBER 8
This is the ‘safe harbor’ deadline when all election disputes must be resolved. If they are not fully played out, whoever has a court ruling in their favor at this point keeps that result. So if Trump has certification on hold in target states, he has a chance to flip them to him starting now.
STEP THREE: GET REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURES TO AGREE TO APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS
You were not voting for the president directly: you were voting for electors to the electoral college. But the Constitution does not say that electors are winners of a popular vote. Instead the Constitution says: ‘Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.’ In the early 19th century, states rapidly moved to make the appointment of the electors the result of the popular vote; by 1832 South Carolina was the only holdout. It stuck with that approach until secession.
So Republicans in at least three and possibly more states would have to decide that because the results are not certified – or because they claim they don’t trust the certification because of an audit or the lack of one – that they can take back control for themselves. They would argue that because the results aren’t certified or trustworthy, it’s up to them to work out the will of the people.
Then – undoubtedly in the face of huge public protest – they would appoint Republicans who will vote for Trump.
This has happened in recent history: in 1960 Hawaii had disputed elections and sent two slates of electors.
STEP FOUR: SWEAT IT OUT WHEN GOVERNORS APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS
All three of the biggest target states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – have Republican legislatures and Democratic governors. So now the governors could simply appoint their own electors – voting for Biden – and say that their votes are what counts on January 6, when the Electoral College is counted and record in Washington D.C.
STEP FOUR: SURVIVE A SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE TO THE REPUBLICAN ELECTORS
Such a dramatic change would go to the Supreme Court. It has never directly ruled whether states could do that: in 2000, three of the five justices who gave the election to Bush over Gore said that state legislatures had complete control – but that is not a precedent. Now Trump’s fate would be in the hands of nine justices, three of whom he appointed and one of whom – Clarence Thomas – said that legislatures are in charge.
Democrats would of course argue that the governors’ electors are the right ones, and a titanic battle would play out. If Trump wins – again in the face of likely huge public protest – he is on to the final stage.
STEP FIVE: HOPE THAT THE PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN SLATES DON’T GO FAITHLESS
If Pennsylvania is one of the states to ignore the popular vote, Trump needs its 20 Republican electors to stick to the plan – but the state allows faithless electors. So all, or even some, could make a difference in an already mathematically fraught bid to keep the presidency. But assuming he has enough votes not going to Biden, it is on to Washington D.C.
STEP FIVE: MAKE IT TO JANUARY 6
This is D-day for the plan: The newly-sworn in Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes. The vice-president, Mike Pence, presides, over a joint session. Normally the ‘certificates’ showing how each state voted are opened in front of the vice-president, the count is recorded and with a bang of the gavel, the electoral college winner is officially declared.
Now Trump needs Republicans in the House and Senate to work together. A member of the House and a senator can jointly object to a state’s certificate when it is opened. The last time this happened was in 1877, which caused a months-long crisis, ended by compromise and followed by the Electoral Count Act of 1887.
This time the 1887 rules come into play. If there is an objection, they split into the House and Senate and there are two hours for debate. This has only happened once, in 2005, when a tiny number of Democrats objected to Ohio’s vote count. But it was voted down overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate.
And finally, the vote count is in alphabetical order, so Arizona will be the first battleground state where all this could be tested.
STEP SIX: MAKE SURE THE RULES ARE IN YOUR FAVOR
As the Trump ships enters uncharted waters, one issue is unresolved: how do you work out what a majority of the Electoral College is? That seems simple but it might not be. If the House and the Senate come to different conclusions on a state with rival slates of electors, then the question is what happens next.
The most likely answer is that they are simply removed from Biden’s total but not added to Trump. But does that mean the states still count in the Electoral College? The 1887 law is not clear: it seems to suggest both options are available, so Congress might have to try to decide – or Pence as president of the joint session could rule.
If Congress goes for the shrinking college, that favors Biden unless Trump has Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – all the states being targeted by Trump. But if it stays at 538, then Biden could well lose without Trump actually winning: once it falls below 270, there is no majority and therefore it is up to the House to decide.
STEP SEVEN: KEEP MITT ROMNEY, SUSAN COLLINS AND LISA MURKOWSKI ON TRUMP’S SIDE (AND HOPE PENCE CAN VOTE)
If Trump is to win, he has to have the Republicans in the Senate vote for Arizona’s Republican slates as the first order of business.
This is where the Georgia Senate race comes into play.
If the Georgia runoffs are decided and Democrats take both seats, Pence would have to tie break in Trump’s favor – if that is allowed. The rules say he is president of the joint session. But they are unclear on whether he retains his tie-break power as president of the Senate. The two roles are not identical and the 1887 law appears to give him a passive, rather than active, role in the session – more like the chief justice presiding over Trump’s impeachment trial than a regular Senate session.
But if Republicans get one or both Georgia seats, the Senate will be 51-49 or 52-48, which means that any rebellion by Republicans is extremely dangerous. Assuming that Pence has a tie-break, it would take only two or three rebels to end Trump’s run. There are three obvious candidates: Mitt Romney voted to impeach him, Susan Collins owes him nothing after he refused to campaign for her, and he has called for Lisa Murkowski to be primaried.
STEP EIGHT: WATCH A DEBATE WHICH HAS NO PRECEDENT
The 1887 law sets some ground rules for how the House and the Senate debate which slate of electors are valid. They have to decide what the true vote was at the safe harbor deadline – back on December 8 – and which slate of electors were appointed in line with state law. So the debate should – in theory – not be partisan but a determination of which side is valid. In principle, that could mean different outcomes for different states. But assuming that a Arizona goes Trump’s way in the Senate and Biden’s way in the House, that state is tied – and then it’s on to a new constitutional crisis.
STEP NINE: NOW IT’S GETTING REALLY MESSY – COULD THERE BE TWO PRESIDENTS
The law says that Congress can’t move on to the next state until debate is resolved over the one in question. But it also says that the meeting cannot be dissolved until all states are decided.
So the whole proceeding could be deadlocked at Arizona. And as long as it remains deadlocked, there is a looming deadline of January 20 – at which point Pence and Trump are out of office anyway. In that scenario, Nancy Pelosi becomes president automatically at noon.
However, Pence could break the deadlock on Arizona by ruling that the votes are not to be counted at all, and debate can resume on the next item.
Democrats clearly would not agree. In that scenario, it is impossible to say what would happen. They could walk out, say the debate is not resolved – which it would not be – and therefore Pelosi would be sworn in on January 20.
But Pence can then rule that the debate in fact is going on even without Democrats, run through the votes with only Republicans and come up with a Trump victory: meaning two rival presidents both claiming they are in charge. Both can be sworn in at noon on January 20, with only one with their personal items in the White House.
What happens then is impossible to say: the Supreme Court could try to rule between them, or the military might have to decide who is commander-in- chief.
THE OTHER STEP NINE: KEEP DEBATING (ALTHOUGH WHY WOULD DEMOCRATS WANT TO?
Of course Democrats could stick with the debate and keep going, debating each state as they go along.
If Trump overturns six states’ votes, it is inevitable that Democrats lose, regardless of the rules. If he has fewer states, he will want the 538 figure kept in play to get Biden into a minority. This highly unlikely step gets to neither having a majority in the Electoral College.
STEP NINE: THE HOUSE DECIDES – TRUMP HAS DONE IT
If Trump and Biden end up here this is safer ground: the House has decided before. It does not vote under normal rules. Instead each state delegation gets one vote and has to decide among the delegation how to allot it.
So going by current House results, 27 states have Republican majorities, and all Trump has to do it get a simple majority of them. Trump has triumphed – but it is an exhaustingly long process to get back on the platform on January 20 to be sworn in.
With his legal options dwindling, Trump’s only hope of winning is to convince Republican-controlled state legislatures to defy the popular votes in their states and appoint Trump-friendly electors.
But Republican lawmakers in four key states – Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – have all said they would not intervene in the selection of electors, who ultimately cast the votes that secure a candidate’s victory.
Such a move would violate state law and a vote of the people, several noted.
Reality appears to be setting in for the president, who made remarks on Friday that seemed to suggest he knew his time in the White House was limited.
Trump appeared to almost acknowledge defeat for the first time on Friday as he stopped himself from uttering the words ‘Biden administration’ during his first address to the nation since he lost the election.
Trump insisted on Friday he would never put the US into a coronavirus lockdown but said ‘time will tell’ if another administration takes office in January and does so – two days after Biden’s coronavirus advisor said the US should go into a national six-week lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.
Trump stopped short of mentioning Biden’s name, however this is the closest he has ever come to acknowledging the President-elect will succeed him.
In his first public remarks since Biden last Saturday was widely projected the winner, Trump said he expected a coronavirus vaccine to be available for the entire population as soon as April, amid a crush of new infections that has pushed daily case counts to record highs.
In broadcast remarks in the White House Rose Garden, Trump showed the first signs that he may be coming to terms with the possibility of an upcoming Biden administration, though he stopped short of conceding the race and did not mention his Democratic rival by name.
‘Ideally, we won’t go to a lockdown. I will not go, this administration will not be going to a lockdown,’ he said.
‘Hopefully the, the – uh – whatever happens in the future – who knows which administration will be. I guess time will tell.’
STATE-BY-STATE: WHERE TRUMP IS SUING AND HOW IT’S GOING
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 47,620
On Monday the Trump campaign filed their big shot at overturning all mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, claiming that Democratic and Republican counties did not administer them in the same way; instances of fraud; and that poll watchers could not see them being counted. On that basis, they say, the results should not be certified on November 23.
The case faces an uphill struggle – and on Thursday the largest law firm in. involved in it, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, quit.
The Supreme Court has already allowed mail-in ballots to be issued in Pennsylvania, and the claim of poll watchers not seeing them being counted had failed before when a Trump lawyer last Friday agreed that a ‘non-zero number’ of Republicans had observed the count in Philadelphia.
The new suit provided no actual evidence of fraud. It did include a claim by an Erie mailman that he had heard his supervisors talking about illegally backdating ballots; he was said to have recanted that claim when questioned by U.S. Postal Inspectors.
Trump’s campaign last Wednesday filed a motion to intervene in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a decision from the state’s highest court that allowed election officials to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday’s Election Day that were delivered through Friday.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday night ordered county election boards in the state to separate mail-in ballots received after 8 p.m. EST on Election Day.
Pennsylvania election officials have said those ballots were already being separated.
The justices previously ruled there was not enough time to decide the merits of the case before Election Day but indicated they might revisit it afterwards.
Alito, joined by fellow conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said in a written opinion that there was a ‘strong likelihood’ the Pennsylvania court’s decision violated the U.S. Constitution.
Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar has said late-arriving ballots are a tiny proportion of the overall vote in the state.
Rudy Giuliani unveiled a ‘witness’ to his claims – a Republican poll watcher – on Saturday but the man, Daryl Brooks, has not been included in any legal papers. He was previously convicted of exposing himself to underage girls.
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 12,813. RECOUNT IS LEGALLY IMPOSSIBLE
Trump’s campaign said last Saturday it had sued in Arizona, alleging that the state’s most populous county incorrectly rejected votes cast on Election Day by some voters.
The lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court in Maricopa County, said poll workers told some voters to press a button after a machine had detected an ‘overvote.’
The campaign said that decision disregarded voters’ choices in those races, and the lawsuit suggested those votes could prove ‘determinative’ in the outcome of the presidential race.
It is a modification of an earlier suit which was submitted and then withdrawn claiming that Trump voters were given sharpies to mark their ballots and claiming this made them more prone to error. The ‘sharpie-gate’ claims have no basis in fact, Arizona’s secretary of state says.
On Thursday 12, a judge savaged the affidavits produced to back the case as ‘spam’ and a Trump lawyer said they were not alleging fraud in any form.
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 36,726
A voter, a member of the media and two candidate campaigns sued Nevada’s secretary of state and other officials to prevent the use of a signature-verification system in populous Clark County and to provide public access to vote counting.
A federal judge rejected the request on Friday, saying there was no evidence the county was doing anything unlawful.
No new suits have been lodged so far.
Trump campaign officials have also claimed evidence that non-residents have voted but have not sued.
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 14,111
The Trump campaign on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in state court in Chatham County that alleged late-arriving ballots were improperly mingled with valid ballots, and asked a judge to order late-arriving ballots be separated and not be counted.
The case was dismissed on Thursday. No new suits have been filed. The state is going to a recount.
The two Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, called for the GOP Secretary of State to quit claiming there were election irregularities Monday. They offered no evidence and he scoffed: ‘That’s not going to happen.’
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 148,645
On Monday 9 Trump filed a federal case alleging fraud and then later a separate demand that the votes are not certified on November 23.
In the first case, one witness – possibly misgendered by the Trump lawyers – claimed that they had been told by another person that mysterious ballots arrived late on vehicles with out of state plates and all were for Biden; that they had seen voters coached to vote for Biden; and that they were told to process ballots without any checks.
It also included poll watchers and ‘challengers’ who said they could not get close enough to see what was happening.
A federal judge has yet to issue any response on when and how it will be looked into. The Trump campaign also filed the same case again to the wrong federal court on Thursday 12 for no apparent reason.
Trump’s campaign last Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Michigan to halt the vote count in the state. The lawsuit alleged that campaign poll watchers were denied ‘meaningful access’ to counting of ballots, plus access to surveillance video footage of ballot drop boxes.
On Thursday 6, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens dismissed the case, saying there was no legal basis or evidence to halt the vote and grant requests.
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
The U.S. Postal Service said about 1,700 ballots had been identified in Pennsylvania at processing facilities during two sweeps on Thursday and were being delivered to election officials, according to a court filing early Friday.
The Postal Service said 1,076 ballots, had been found at its Philadelphia Processing and Distribution Center. About 300 were found at the Pittsburgh processing center, 266 at a Lehigh Valley facility and others at other Pennsylvania processing centers.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington is overseeing a lawsuit by Vote Forward, the NAACP, and Latino community advocates.
Sullivan on Thursday ordered twice-daily sweeps at Postal Service facilities serving states with extended ballot receipt deadlines.
The judge plans to hold a status conference on Monday.