Election 2020: Trump Campaign Lawsuits, Explained
President Trump and his allies have filed lawsuits alleging election irregularities or improper ballot-counting procedures in five states where President-elect Joe Biden leads.
Some suits seek to delay state officials from certifying final results, a rare step that judges likely would be reluctant to take without proof of irregularities significant enough to change the election outcome, according to legal analysts. Judges have rejected several Trump campaign and allied claims.
Here is a state-by-state guide to the lawsuits:
Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar (link)
A lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Republicans in July reached the U.S. Supreme Court in recent weeks. A 4-4 order let stand a state Supreme Court decision allowing officials to count mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day.
The court refused Republicans’ second request to hear the case before Election Day, but left open the possibility for postelection litigation.
Justice Samuel Alito, who backed the Pennsylvania Republicans’ position and voted to overturn the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, suggested in a statement accompanying the order that considering those mail-in votes valid would allow state courts to undercut election rules set by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar directed county election boards to separate ballots received after Nov. 3.
支持宾夕法尼亚州共和党立场并投票推翻宾夕法尼亚州最高法院裁决的大法官塞缪尔·阿利托(Samuel Alito)在一份随命令一起发布的声明中表示，认为这些邮寄选票有效将允许州法院削弱该州共和党控制的立法机构制定的选举规则。宾夕法尼亚州国务卿凯西·布克瓦(Kathy Boockvar)指示县选举委员会将11月3日之后收到的选票分开。
On Nov. 4, the Trump campaign asked for permission to participate in the case.
Status: The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t yet said whether it will hear the appeal or allow the Trump campaign to join the suit. About 10,000 ballots arrived during the three days after Election Day, far below the margin of Mr. Biden’s lead of more than 45,000 votes. Even if the Supreme Court heard the case and threw out every ballot received during the extension, Mr. Biden would still lead.
Donald J. Trump for President v. Boockvar (link)
The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee filed a petition in state court on Nov. 4, challenging Ms. Boockvar’s deadline extension for absentee voters to provide missing proof of identification. The suit asked a judge to segregate and not count those ballots.
Ms. Boockvar called the lawsuit a “last gasp attempt to prevent legitimate votes from being counted.”
Status: On Nov. 12, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that Ms. Boockvar lacked statutory authority to extend the deadline and ordered the ballots be segregated and not counted.
Donald J. Trump for President v. Boockvar (link)
The Trump campaign filed a federal lawsuit on Nov. 9 against Ms. Boockvar and seven county election boards including Allegheny and Philadelphia, alleging that poll observers were kept too far away from vote counters, that voters in Republican- and Democratic-majority counties received different treatment during the election, and that mail-in and in-person ballots were given different scrutiny, in potential violation of the Constitution. The suit asked a judge to block officials from certifying the election results.
Election officials have said they followed the state’s election code.
Status: A judge considered whether to grant a dismissal motion from state officials at a hearing Tuesday. Both sides are expected to submit additional briefs this week.
Election Court Ballot Observation Case (link)
The Trump campaign’s election-observer complaints are echoed in a state Election Court claim, dated Nov. 3. A lower court in Philadelphia rejected Republican claims the same day. The Trump campaign appealed on Nov. 4. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, an intermediate appeals court, overturned the decision and handed the Trump campaign a win, ruling that observers must be able to view “all aspects of the canvassing process within six feet.”
特朗普竞选团队对选举观察员的抱怨与州选举法院11月3日的申诉相呼应。同一天，费城的一家下级法院驳回了共和党的申诉。特朗普竞选团队于11月4日提出上诉。宾夕法尼亚联邦法院(Federal Court Of Pennsylvania)是一家中级上诉法院，它推翻了这一裁决，给特朗普竞选团队带来了胜利，裁定观察员必须能够在六英尺(约合3米)的范围内查看“拉票过程的方方面面”。
Status: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the appeals court ruling, a win for Philadelphia officials who had argued for pandemic accommodations and voter privacy.
Canvass of Absentee and Mail-In Ballots (link)
The Trump campaign asked a state court to throw out 8,300 ballots that it said were filled out incorrectly. The filing is an appeal of a decision made by the Philadelphia elections board to count the votes at issue.
Status: The Court of Common Pleas held a hearing on Nov. 13 and declined to throw out the ballots. The Trump campaign appealed to an intermediate appeals court and lawyers for Philadelphia asked that the case be transferred to the state Supreme Court, which agreed to take the case on Wednesday.
现状：普通普莱斯法院(Court Of Common Pleas)于11月13日举行听证会，拒绝扔掉选票。特朗普竞选团队向一家中级上诉法院提出上诉，费城的律师要求将此案移交给州最高法院，最高法院同意在周三受理此案。
Donald J. Trump for President v. Benson (link)
The Trump campaign sued Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, on Nov. 4, asking a state court to halt the counting of ballots. The suit claimed that officials failed to provide Republican poll observers with “meaningful access” to watch the counting of mail-in ballots.
An assistant attorney general said at a hearing that there was no relief that could be granted because “there are no more counting boards that are functioning.” A lawyer for the Democratic National Committee pointed out that the lawsuit was filed improperly against the secretary of state, who doesn’t oversee the absentee ballot-counting sites.
一名助理司法部长在一次听证会上表示，不能给予任何救济，因为“没有更多的计票委员会在运作。”民主党全国委员会(Democratic National Committee)的一名律师指出，这起诉讼是对国务卿提起的不正当的诉讼，国务卿并没有监督缺席的计票地点。
Status: On Nov. 7, a Michigan judge denied the attempt to halt the counting of absentee ballots, in part on the grounds that the lawsuit was brought against the wrong defendant and was filed too late: all the state’s votes had been counted. The Trump campaign is seeking to appeal the matter to the state Court of Appeals.
Constantino v. City of Detroit (link)
The Great Lakes Justice Center, a conservative legal group, filed a state lawsuit on behalf of two state residents, calling on judges to block state officials from certifying the election results.
The Nov. 9 complaint alleges that Detroit elections officials counted ineligible absentee ballots and improperly excluded observers from the ballot-counting process. The lawsuit also contains the allegations of a Detroit elections employee who said she observed city employees coaching voters to cast ballots for Mr. Biden in the weeks before the election.
Michigan officials have defended the state’s voting system, which handled record turnout and more than 3.1 million absentee ballots statewide.
Status: Last week, a state judge refused to stop Wayne County’s vote certification process. An appeal filed by the Great Lakes Justice Center was denied by the state court of appeals Monday. The plaintiffs appealed that decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Donald J. Trump for President v. Benson (link)
The Trump campaign alleged, in a federal lawsuit filed a week after the election, that Ms. Benson, the Michigan secretary of state, and officials in Wayne County, home to Detroit, blocked Republican poll watchers from observing the counting of mail-in ballots. The suit asked a judge to block state officials from finalizing results.
The Democratic National Committee, which asked to join the case along with the NAACP and the City of Detroit, asked a judge to dismiss the case Tuesday.
民主党全国委员会(Democratic National Committee)要求与全国有色人种协进会(NAACP)和底特律市政府一起参与此案，并于周二要求法官驳回此案。
Status: A court appearance hasn’t yet been scheduled.
Law v. Whitmer (link)
Republicans on Tuesday contested the state’s final election results. The challenge asked the Carson City District Court to declare Mr. Trump the winner or void the results altogether, alleging the race was beset by irregularities and fraud that affected enough votes to “raise reasonable doubt as to the outcome.” No evidence of widespread fraud has emerged in Nevada.
County election officials in Nevada finished canvassing the returns Monday. The Secretary of State is expected to certify the results by Tuesday.
Stokke v. Cegavske (link)
A GOP-backed lawsuit against Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske sought to change the way ballots were being counted in Clark County, the state’s most populous area. Republicans asked the judge to halt the use of a machine used to match signatures on mail-in ballots and give the public better access to observe the ballot-counting process.
The suit, filed in federal court, mirrored similar claims made in a state-court case that was pending in the Nevada Supreme Court at the time. In that state court case, a judge had ruled the machines were “not only permissible, but the only way the county would be able to process all ballots before the statewide canvass deadline.”
Status: On Nov. 6, a judge rejected Republicans’ request to change how state officials count votes. The original complaint is pending at the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
Trump v. Hobbs (link)
The Trump campaign sued Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, alleging that some votes cast on Election Day were incorrectly rejected in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and more than half the state’s residents. The complaint asked for a manual inspection of the ballots at issue and for a judge to block the state’s final vote certification until the review is complete.
The suit claimed numerous voters were alerted by an electronic tabulation machine of irregularities with their ballots, potentially caused by stray markings, ink splotches or voter errors. Under state law, those people should have been given an opportunity to fix their ballot after the machine flagged problems. Some poll workers encouraged voters to override the error message causing each ballot to be cast with the defect, the lawsuit alleged.
The Arizona secretary of state’s office said it appeared to be a second attempt to advance claims brought in a separate lawsuit, since dropped, that raised issues with the use of Sharpies to fill
Status: Trump lawyers on Friday asked the judge not to rule on the Trump-related claims, which involved too few ballots to affect the election outcome.
Chatham County Absentee Ballot Case (link)
The Georgia Republican Party and the Trump campaign filed a challenge against the Chatham County Board of Elections the day after Election Day, claiming there was evidence that officials had mixed absentee ballots received after polls closed on Nov. 3 with ones being tabulated, in violation of state law. The filing asked a state court to bar the counting of any absentee ballots received after the deadline.
Status: A judge dismissed the matter two days later, ruling that there was no evidence the Election Board didn’t follow the law.
The Trump campaign has said it plans to request a recount in Georgia and Wisconsin. Election lawyers said it was unlikely a recount would alter the results of the presidential election. Statewide recounts aren’t common and rarely succeed.
A study conducted by FairVote, a nonpartisan organization, found that between 2000 and 2015, statewide recounts resulted in a different outcome in one out of every 1,562 statewide elections. Historically, recounts shift statewide results only by small margins averaging less than 300 votes, FairVote said.
Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has ordered a statewide manual recount by hand. Mr. Biden currently leads the race by just over 14,000 votes out of almost 5 million cast.
The Trump campaign said that Rep. Doug Collins will lead its Georgia recount effort.
On Nov. 4, the Trump campaign requested a recount in Wisconsin, citing a “razor-thin race” where Mr. Biden has a 20,000-vote advantage.
Under state law, a campaign can request a recount if the vote margin is within 1 percentage point.
A campaign must make its request up to three days after Wisconsin counties complete their canvassing of the vote, which they are required to do by Nov. 17. A Wisconsin recount must be completed within 13 days of the formal recount order and paid for up front, usually by the requesting campaign.
Wisconsin has previously conducted high-profile recounts. In the 2016 presidential election, Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested a Wisconsin recount, which resulted in a net gain of 131 votes for Mr. Trump.