Trump prepares to fight election results in court – this is what he wants to do

President Donald Trump has launched legal action over the US election as he tries to temporarily stop vote counting in two states, and wants a recount in a third where his rival Joe Biden has apparently won.

Mr Biden and his team have said they have lawyers “standing by” to fight any challenge.

But what is the president centring his case on?

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His team are particularly showing concern and anger about the late influx of votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – key states now set to prove crucial in who gets the keys to the White House.

The Trump campaign claims it has:

  • Filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Michigan to demand better access to locations where ballots are being processed and counted
  • Called for a temporary halt in the counting of votes in both states
  • Asked for a recount in Wisconsin – a state where Mr Biden is believed to have won

The president is ahead of Mr Biden in Pennsylvania but his margin is shrinking as more postal ballots are counted. In Michigan, the president is running slightly behind his rival.

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The Trump campaign said it is suing to temporarily stop ballot counting in Pennsylvania until there is “meaningful transparency”.

    It also said it is filing lawsuits to stop Democratic election officials “hiding” ballot counting and processing from Republican poll observers in the state.

    The Trump campaign said in a statement: “The eyes of the country are on Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania has kept eyes off of the absentee ballot counting process all along, and that must stop today.”

    And despite incomplete results and no projections of a win, the Trump campaign said it is “declaring a victory in Pennsylvania”.

    A Trump campaign spokesman also said it would seek to intervene in an ongoing Supreme Court case involving the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.

    The state had 3.1 million mail-in ballots that take time to count, and an order allows them to be counted up until Friday if they are postmarked by 3 November.

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the lawsuit was “more a political document than a legal document”.

    The Trump campaign is also calling for a temporary halt in Michigan’s vote counting until it is given access to locations where ballots are being counted in the undecided state.

    Mr Trump is running slightly behind Mr Biden in Michigan.

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    Even before Mr Biden was declared the apparent winner in Wisconsin, Mr Trump’s campaign manager said he would “immediately” request a recount due to “reports of irregularities” in several counties.

    According to Wisconsin’s rules on recounts, the second-place candidate only has the right to request a recount if the election result is within 1% of the winner’s total.

    The Biden campaign did not immediately comment on the new lawsuits in Michigan or Pennsylvania over access for campaign observers.

    However, the campaign has been seeking donations for what it is calling the “Biden Fight Fund.”

    “Our legal team is standing by, and they will prevail,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said earlier on Wednesday.

    The president's latest claims over the postal vote system have not be substantiated
    Image:The president’s latest claims over the postal vote system have not be substantiated

    Postal voting has been a key issue for Mr Trump – something he has been criticising for months as having what he says is the potential to undermine the result.

    More than 100 million people voted by mail ahead of polling day – a record – with many said to be reluctant to go out in person because of COVID-19.

    Mr Trump said on Wednesday that he wanted to ensure any votes cast after the polls closed – (“at 4 o’clock in the morning”, as he put it) – would not be counted.

    He consistently claimed in the run-up to the big day that there was a risk from the system – and he’s now doubled-down on that by saying a “major fraud on our nation” is playing out.

    Postal ballots being processed in LA last week
    Image:Postal ballots being processed in LA last week

    However, there is currently no evidence of that happening. Importantly, Democrat voters are historically more likely to vote by mail than Republicans, meaning any early advantage Mr Trump has could be wiped out.

    The state supreme court in Pennsylvania last week upheld a decision that postal votes could be counted three days after the election – as long as they were postmarked by election day.

    The US Postal Service warned 46 states in July that it could not guarantee all votes would arrive by the cut-off time.

    A federal judge in Washington has now ordered US Postal Service inspectors to sweep more than two dozen depots for any ballots – including in Pennsylvania and parts of Wisconsin – and to process them immediately.

    Mr Biden, 77, has said it “ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted”.

    The president has threatened to go to the Supreme Court - but whether it gets that far is still to be seen
    Image:The president has threatened to go to the Supreme Court – but whether it gets that far is still to be seen

    He has called Mr Trump’s claims of fraud “outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect”.

    “Having encouraged Republican efforts in multiple states to prevent the legal counting of these ballots before election day, now Donald Trump is saying these ballots can’t be counted after election day either,” said Mr Biden.

    Under the 12th Amendment, a “contingent election” would be triggered if it is determined that neither candidate has secured a majority of electoral votes – which would see the House of Representatives choose the next president, while the Senate selects the vice president.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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