- The Trump campaign’s new major lawsuit in Pennsylvania alleges that voter fraud potentially happened in only two counties.
- Both counties, Fayette and Luzerne, voted for President Donald Trump.
- The local news articles cited in the lawsuit to bolster its claims reported that local officials were addressing the irregularities before Election Day.
- The lawsuit also doesn’t offer any basis for the kind of widespread voter fraud that Trump has repeatedly alleged without any evidence.
- Trump and other Republicans have filed over a dozen lawsuits contesting the 2020 election. Their main efforts are in Pennsylvania, which gave President-elect Joe Biden enough electoral votes to clinch the race.
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On Monday, the Trump campaign filed a new, 85-page lawsuit, asking a federal judge to block Pennsylvania’s secretary of state from certifying the results of the presidential election.
If successful, the move could block President-elect Joe Biden from formally receiving the state’s 20 electoral votes, which would reduce his overall total but isn’t likely to reverse the election results.
The lawsuit makes several claims of irregularities about how votes were counted, citing unnamed poll watchers and election observers. It also claims that Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar gave improper guidance to election officials for processing mail-in ballots.
But the filing cites only two specific instances of potential voter fraud, as Adam Klasfeld reported for Law & Crime.
Both instances are in counties that voted heavily for Trump.
If votes are thrown out in those areas, they could widen his loss margin in the state, rather than close the 45,000-and-counting-vote gap between him and Biden.
And as the news articles cited in the lawsuit itself point out, authorities had already addressed all of the issues that opened the door for voter fraud well before Election Day. And the lawsuits do not offer any evidence for the kind of wide-spread voter fraud Trump has repeatedly alleged without basis.
- In Fayette County, the lawsuit says, some voters received two ballots in the mail, and some received ballots that had already been filled out. The lawyers representing the Trump campaign argue that both situations can lead to voter fraud.
It cites two local news articles from October to back up the claims. One of the articles, about duplicate ballots, reports that the county election board had already resolved the issue. Contemporaneous reports about ballots being pre-filled in the county say that election officials were already addressing that issue, as well.
President Donald Trump won nearly 67% of the vote in Fayette County, according to DDHQ data published by Insider.
- In Luzerne County, the lawsuit points out that a temporary seasonal election worker had thrown out nine military ballots that were in unmarked envelopes. It’s not clear if those ballots were for the primary or general election.
To make the claim, the lawsuit cites a local news article from September. The very same article reports that the incident was under investigation and that the county had already changed its rules to prevent similar issues in the future.
About 57% of voters in the county voted for Trump, according to DDHQ data published by Insider.
The lawsuit also doesn’t cite either Luzerne County or Fayette County as defendants in the lawsuit, but it does go after the boards of election for the counties of Allegheny, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia — all based on anonymous poll watchers and election watchers alleging irregularities. Voters in all of those counties preferred Biden to Trump, according to DDHQ data.
In arguing that voter fraud overall is a significant risk in the state of Pennsylvania, the lawyers cite only three cases over a 21-year period in the entire state. Voter fraud is extremely rare, according to election experts. A 2020 analysis from the right-wing Heritage Foundation found that only about six out of every 10 million votes cast results in any kind of criminal conviction.
The lawsuit’s arguments about problems with how mail-in ballots were processed “make no sense,” Richard Briffault, a Columbia Law School professor who studies election litigation, told Insider.
“In effect, they are saying the mailed-in ballots are unconstitutional, which is ludicrous,” Briffault said. “In any event, any challenges to PA’s mailed ballot procedures that were on the books prior to Election Day (and not imposed by a court) could have and so should have been brought before the election, and so should be thrown out for that reason alone.”
The new Pennsylvania lawsuit is one of more than a dozen lawsuits the Trump campaign and other Republicans have filed across the country seeking to undermine the 2020 election results. Pennsylvania, in particular, is important because its 20 electoral college votes ensured Biden’s victory.
But even if the highly unlikely happens and Biden’s electoral votes in Pennsylvania aren’t certified because of this lawsuit, Trump would still have to win Arizona, Georgia, and Alaska in order to secure the necessary 270 electoral votes. The incumbent is only projected to win Alaska and its three electoral votes; Biden is in the lead in the other two states yet to call.
The Trump campaign is also seeking to join a Supreme Court case over the validity of mail-in ballots that arrived at ballot processing centers after election day. In all of the cases that Trump and other Republicans have joined in the state, it’s unlikely that there are enough ballots in question to overcome Biden’s 45,000-vote margin in the state.