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November 19, 2020

Election Watch: The Window Narrows

A brief update on the status of legal challenges in several contested states.

As lawsuits and recounts continue, the official outcome of the 2020 election is slowly coming into focus. Where do things currently stand?

Pennsylvania: On Sunday, President Donald Trump’s legal team dropped its primary fraud allegation due to last Friday’s ruling by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which effectively narrowed the parameters of the suit. The fewer than 700 votes now in question are clearly not enough to overcome Joe Biden’s current 83,000 vote lead, so Trump’s legal team elected to drop that suit in order to focus its efforts on the claim of denial of equal protection in pro-Trump counties. The argument here is that, in the pro-Biden counties in which Philadelphia and Pittsburgh reside, voters were invited by election officials to cure defective ballots, whereas the same offer was not extended to voters in pro-Trump counties. The problem is that even if the court sides with Trump, the number of ballots impacted is still not enough to overcome Biden’s lead. As Andrew McCarthy observes, “The main problem for President Trump continues to be the math. There are not nearly enough ballots at issue in what remains of his lawsuit to alter the outcome of the voting in Pennsylvania.”

Michigan: The two Republicans on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers were pressured by Democrats and harassed by leftists until they agreed to drop their objections and vote to certify the county’s election results. They have now backtracked. As The Washington Post reports, “In affidavits signed on Wednesday evening, the two GOP members of the four-member Wayne County Board of Canvessers allege that they were improperly pressured into certifying the election and accused Democrats of reneging on a promise to audit votes in Detroit.”

However, the board’s Democrat chairman, Jonathan Kinlock, says certified results were already sent to the secretary of state, so it’s too late for the two Republicans to change their minds. The two Republicans claim they were essentially deceived by Democrats, who assured their colleagues that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had agreed to conduct an audit based on allegations of “serious flaws which deserved investigation,” when in fact Benson had not agreed to do so. Will the Republicans’ rescission be permitted? If so, expect wrangling over the vote in Wayne County, where Detroit is located, to heat up, as it is the county that put Biden into the lead, which now sits at a statewide 150,000 votes.

Wisconsin: Republicans are crying foul in the Badger State, too, charging that Democrats on the state’s elections commission were seeking to change the rules following the Trump campaign’s filing of a recount petition in the counties of Dane and Milwaukee. Reince Priebus, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager and first chief of staff, responded, “Let’s get this straight. The Trump campaign sent the Wis Election Comm. $3 mil and filed its petition for a recount. Then the WEC immediately called a special meeting to change certain recount rules that deal with the issues brought up in the petition? You can’t make this up.” It appears that the crux of the disagreement centers on rules determining the legality of absentee ballots and observers’ ability to witness counting. Trump trails by just over 33,000 votes.

Georgia: Election officials have yet to announce the results of the statewide hand recount initiated by Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. While three counties uncovered a total of just over 5,000 previously uncounted votes, which cut Biden’s lead down to roughly 12,800 votes, there appears to be no significant instances of voter fraud. Once the results are announced, and the numbers are not expected to significantly change, then by state law Trump will be entitled to request another recount.

As things currently stand, Trump’s path to victory has narrowed considerably. He would need to flip both Michigan and Wisconsin, likely via court battles, and hope the outcome of the Georgia recount has somehow gone his way. Even with a court win, Pennsylvania looks to be mathematically out of reach.

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