EXPLAINER: What effect could lawsuits have on the election?
Two days later, an uneasy United States is still waiting to hear who will be its next president. With Democrat Joe Biden pushing closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win, President Donald Trump’s campaign has attacked the integrity of the voting process with lawsuits in three key states. They are Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.
Here, Colleen Long, a national reporter in the Washington bureau of The Associated Press who is leading coverage of the legal challenges, breaks down how these lawsuits could affect the presidential election.
WHAT ARE THESE LAWSUITS TRYING TO DO?
In Pennsylvania and Michigan, the campaign wanted to temporarily halt vote counting until Republicans got more oversight of the tally. The lawsuit in Georgia asked for a judge’s order to make sure the state is following the law around absentee ballots. But judges already swatted down the Michigan and Georgia ones. They could still be appealed, though.
WHAT ARE EXPERTS SAYING?
Election law experts and state election officials have overwhelmingly said there has been no sign of widespread or even sporadic voter fraud. Counting votes just takes more time than in past years because the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people go about it. But the Trump campaign says these lawsuits are necessary anyway. Meanwhile, Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer says the suits have no merit and are just meant to spread a false narrative about the electoral process. He said it’s more about Trump’s own effort to discredit the election.
CAN THESE LEGAL MANEUVERS HAVE CONSEQUENCES?
Sure. Bush v. Gore in 2000 was a good example of how litigation can affect the outcome of an election. But legal experts say today, a lawsuit with that kind of power would have to come out of a state where the result there would determine who wins the overall election. Also, the difference between the candidates’ vote totals would have to be smaller than the ballots at stake in the lawsuit. And neither condition has been met yet.
ARE THESE THE ONLY ONES?
No, there were hundreds filed before the election by both sides, and they had to do with changes to how the election was going to work because of the coronavirus pandemic. When absentee ballots could be counted until, whether you had to wear a mask, that kind of thing. Some of them were still live on Nov. 3, but most were sorted out.
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