You probably heard that Biden won the election. You also probably heard that Trump plans to fight his loss in court by filing lawsuits. Against the country he still runs for the time being. So far we have Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Georgia is also undergoing a recount, which, according to Trump’s campaign, is on their behalf.
These four states make up 63 electroal votes. In theory, these “wins” would put Trump at 293 and Biden at 229 – effectively swapping their spots in the polls.
But Trump’s plan won’t work. Here’s why:
It’s Just A Poorly Planned Pipedream
Trump would have to prove voter fraud, miscounted, lost, or otherwise misrepresented votes in those four states to the tune of almost a quater-million. 236,486 votes to be exact (based on the numbers available when written.) The two states with the largest voter margins are MI with a 146,121 vote difference and PA with a 65,866 vote difference.
With those two states out of the question for a recount – and assuming that Trump’s pipedream of Arizona and Geogria come through – neither candidate would have the 270 needed to win.
Okay, so if that happens, then what?
Well, it’s an incredibly unlikely scenario. But the presidential election would be left up to members of the House of Representatives. Which, at the moment, just so happens to be largely democratic – 232 democrats to 197 republicans. The VP, however, would be decided by the Senate. Which is marginally more republican than democrat at the moment.
But neither path helps Trump.
There’s No Proof
Assuming I didn’t convince you already, this should be the deal-breaker for you. There’s no proof that voter fraud happened in the hundreds of thousands. Or even the thousands. Or possibly even the hundreds.
And in recounts since 2000, the average change in the number of votes has been a few hundred, according to research from the nonpartisan group FairVote. With the smallest margin between Biden and Trump in those four states being just over 10,000 and the runner-up being just over 14,000 – Trump coming up with anything 2,000 votes in his favor is highly, highly, highly improbable.
Nevermind over 24,000 votes.
And if that didn’t do it for you, here’s a breakdown of the “proof” and filed lawsuits by state:
Arizona: Blame The Sharpies
This campaign is based on statements to from two voters who suspect – but can’t prove – that their ballot wasn’t counted because of Sharpie marks. Which is a tactic they’ve used in the past as well.
The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit seeking to block the canvass or certification of all ballots cast in person on Election Day in Maricopa County until they could be reviewed. Which just happens to be the most populous county in the battleground state and includes Phoenix.
The Trump campaign alleges that a review of almost 166,000 ballots cast in person on Election Day “would yield up to thousands of additional votes for President Trump and other Republican candidates in the November 3, 2020 general election.”
The Trump campaign has tried to delay a court hearing and a Trump attorney sought to seal the identities of individuals he wanted to call to testify at a hearing scheduled for Thursday. But lawyers for Maricopa County objected.
“The public has a right to know how flimsy Plaintiffs’ evidence actually is,” they wrote.
Georgia: Hand Recount; No Suits
Georgia has no lingering litigation, but a hand recount is happening. Biden leads by about 14,000 votes in the state, or .3%. But, again, recounts typically only change the votes by a few hundred, not 14,001. So seeing any changes here are unlikely.
Still, “Everything is a step along the way of the ultimate goal of the president being reelected,” campaign legal counsel Stefan Passantino said, referring to the recount in Georgia.
Michigan: Asking For A Mulligan
Two court cases from the Trump campaign in Michigan’s state and federal courts are seeking to slow down or prevent the state and Wayne County, which includes heavily Democratic Detroit, from certifying votes there.
In a federal court case, the Trump campaign is asking the court to force a do-over of the absentee vote count in Michigan and to block the state from certifying its election results.
A judge in Michigan’s Court of Claims already dismissed the state-level lawsuit within two days of its filing, calling the “evidence” the Trump campaign touted regarding the counting of absentee votes as hearsay.
Pennsylvania: It Wasn’t Quite Uniform Enough
The case alleges that voters have faced constitutional rights violations… because counties took different approaches to process absentee ballots.
Other live Trump campaign or Republican cases in the state deal with the handling of absentee ballots with defects or other special situations, such as missing privacy envelopes, lack of an address on the outside envelope or corrected with a provisional vote, or mailed ballots received after Election Day.
Even if all of the cases – including a lingering challenge at the US Supreme Court over the late-arriving votes – were to be successful, the amount of ballots affected would be a few thousand. That wouldn’t be enough to surmount Biden’s lead over Trump.
So What’s The Point Then?
To buy time, to add further fuel to the Republican fire, or does he actually – above all possible reason – think this could turn the election around? It’s hard to say, but speculation is flying everywhere. Even from Ginsberg, “I suspect the Trump campaign’s pipe dream is to force all these issues that have never before been litigated to the Supreme Court.”
Whatever the reason, this plan’s chances of suceeding are slim to none. But crazier things have happened. Like, you know, Trump getting elected in the first place.