Road to 270 – Legal Tussles Jam U.S Election
In the vote counting following Tuesday held United States’ presidential election, a series of controversies have flared up leading to court battles. Incumbent Donald Trump has filed several lawsuits in different States, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, in attempts to prevent the results of ballot counting leaning towards his opponent, Joe Biden.
In some instance, the Trump’s campaign is seeking to ‘stop the counting. In others, it asks for the recounting of ballots while some Trump’s supporters are asking for access to counting centres. Though one of these requests found grace in a superior court of Philadelphia, after overruling a lower court, the Trump camp lost its suit in Michigan on Thursday.
Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon reversed a lower court decision on Thursday and concluded that all candidates, watchers, or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process, as requested by president Trump’s campaign. “And be permitted to observe all aspects of the canvassing process within 6 feet, while adhering to all COVID-19 protocols, including, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing,
according to ABC News”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tabulation process of results got delayed because the use of Mail-in ballot is widely used due to social distancing. Trump was never a fan of the mail-in ballot, a voting system that gained its highest popularity in the U.S election this year. Trump’s campaign officials hailed the decision, calling it a “massive” win “for every person who has casted a legal ballot in the state of Pennsylvania.”
But according to ABC News, Biden campaign officials said they were puzzled by the lawsuit, one of several filed in Pennsylvania as election officials have been grinding through counting hundreds of thousands of ballots since Tuesday.
“We don’t care if your observers are 18 feet away or 15 feet away or 6 feet away — as long as election officials can do their jobs,” one Biden official tweeted Thursday,” tweeted Biden spokesman Bill Russo.
Pennsylvania is anticipated to be decided for Joe Biden, one of the most important states when it comes to the U.S election. Trump is currently leading but Biden is believed to overtake him which will decide his presidency. With 97 percent of votes reported so far, Trump’s edge has shrunk to 49.6 percent with Biden fast overtaking at a current tally of 49.3 percent of the votes.
Trump has since maintained that the results be resolved in court. The last election disputed in a U.S court was in 2000 between the former Vice President Al Gore and the eventual winner, George W. Bush. It was resolved by the Supreme Court.
Trump loses Michigan legal battle
Trump campaign has also lost a lawsuit seeking to halt Michigan vote count on Thursday, according to Reuters, after a judge in the state has tossed out a lawsuit brought by U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign in hopes of halting vote-counting in the battleground state. “I have no basis to find that there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,” Judge Cynthia Stephens said.
Campaign officials for Trump have said they filed the suit to stop the counting in Michigan and gain greater access to the tabulation process. The lawsuit was a “messaging exercise,” said Bob Bauer, senior advisor on Biden’s campaign.
Trump has lost in Michigan as one of the battleground states to Joe Biden by 16 electoral votes and 2,788,425 popular votes.
Trump loses lawsuit to stop counting in Georgia
The Trump campaign in Georgia sued to stop 53 late absentee ballots to be added to a stack of on-time absentee ballots in Chatham County where early voting and absentee ballots are presumptively said to favour Joe Biden. David Shafer, the chairman of the
Georgia state GOP, tweeted Wednesday, “I have authorised lawyers for the Georgia Republican Party to file an emergency petition against the Chatham County Board of Elections to enforce election laws and prevent the unlawful counting of absentee ballots received after the election.”
But the Trump camp lost its case on Thursday and is now nervously watching the final returns in Georgia with Biden’s performance beating every imagination in what was thought to be a GOP stronghold. In Chatham and Atlanta, an impressive African American turnout helped Biden close the gap with Trump. At about 4:30 a.m. this early Friday, the release of ballots counted in the Atlanta suburb of Clayton County gave Biden a lead in the state of 917 votes. Both Trump and Biden are neck and neck with 49.4 percent each. Georgia has 16 electoral votes and a win there would be a win in the Electoral College in Biden’s grasp.
Direct shot at the Supreme Court is not possible
On election night, Donald Trump told his supporters that his campaign will challenge the results in the United States Supreme Court without indicating the states’ courts. Many experts criticized him for the statement, who further added that the president did not
present any proof of fraud and stolen ballots as he alleged. Prof. Meena Bose of the Hofstra University told foreign journalists covering the U.S election that every electoral grievance must first be filed at the states’ courts.
“If a case is sent forward that goes through, it will probably start in the state courts then go to the Supreme court, and this could happen very quickly, at that point, either campaign can issue that challenge and then it becomes the decision of the court to decide whether to hear or not hear that challenge. So, you move from the electoral process to the judicial process,” he told journalists.
Trump, a self proclaimed winner…
President Trump has declared himself a winner on Tuesday when major battlegrounds are still being counted. Responding to journalists about the eligibility of Trump’s action, Prof. Meena Bose found no legal problem with it. “They certainly can. And then the question becomes legitimacy.”
However, he said in the event that the president raises issues with vote counting, the process will continue as far as possible.
On Thursday night, Trump without providing any direct evidence of fraud, challenged the electoral process and claimed that the election was being stolen from him. “If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late, we’re looking at them very strongly,” Trump told reporters.
Delay in battleground is caused in part by postal services
Meanwhile, a U.S federal judge on Thursday has expressed concern as he loses patience over delay in postal services which facilitated hundreds of thousands of ballots. The judge wants to confirm they arrived safely. He’s threatening to call the U.S postmaster general into court. Late arrivals of the ballots are responsible for late counting in many states including Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania says it will count ballots if they arrive by 5pm on Friday.
As things stand, Joe Biden is leading the Electoral College with 264 votes while Trump has 214 votes as they race for the 270 magic numbers. Apart from Pennsylvania, either Georgia where the two candidates are neck and neck with Biden now edging Trump or Nevada where counting is still in progress, could decide the final winner. Biden needs to win in only one of these states to be elected president of The United States.