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Where the lawsuits stand in Trump's presidential election challenge

The legal challenges put forward by President Trump and his allies have largely been rejected by the courts.

President Donald Trump and his allies continue to push lawsuits in several states challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

The challenges come as President-elect Joe Biden begins his transition with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris ahead of their January 20th inauguration. 

According to projections by major media outlets, Biden exceeded the 270 electoral votes needed on Saturday.

Even as Biden prepares to take office, The Associated Press has yet to call the race in Georgia. Trump and his campaign are trying to hop on the opportunity to pursue legal routes that would favor the president's vote count. 

While refusing to concede the election, Trump has claimed that he would have won were it not for “illegal” votes counted in states that he lost or where he's trailing. But, Trump and his allies haven't offered any proof and their legal challenges have largely been rejected by the courts.

Nonpartisan investigations of previous elections have found that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. State officials from both parties, as well as international observers, have also stated that the 2020 election went well.

Lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign

Judges have largely rejected the Republican challenges over the past week, when the campaign sought to interrupt the vote count as it leaned toward Biden. Below are some of the lawsuits the Trump campaign filed in several key states.

Arizona

The Trump campaign with the Republican National Committee asked in a lawsuit filed Nov. 7 for the right to inspect thousands of in-person ballots filled out on Election Day in the Phoenix area, alleging that poll workers had mishandled them. 

But Trump's campaign dropped the lawsuit after learning that Biden's margin of victory in Arizona cannot mathematically be overcome. 

Arizona's ballot count Thursday mathematically eliminated the president from winning the state. Biden holds a lead of more than 11,000 votes over Trump in Arizona with just 10,315 ballots left to count as of Thursday night. 

The lawsuit alleged Maricopa County, the largest county in the state that includes Phoenix, incorrectly rejected votes and overrode errors by voting machines.

The lawsuit alleged thousands of in-person ballots cast on Election Day may have been disqualified or considered "overvotes," meaning the tabulation machine identified marks for more than one candidate.  

However, in court, attorneys representing Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes had said the number of identified “overvotes” in the presidential race was far less -- at only 180 total.

The attorneys argued this small number “is not going to make one iota of difference” and “there is no possibility of systematic failure.”

Korey Langhofer, representing the president’s campaign had argued in response that since all the votes had not yet been counted, the “overvote” ballots could impact down-ballot races, if not the presidential race. 

A judge also denied a request made by the Trump campaign's attorney in another hearing Tuesday morning.

The campaign requested that evidence of voter fraud be sealed in order to "protect identities of witnesses." Maricopa County Attorney Tom Liddy argued against the sealing of evidence, saying the county was perfectly capable of redacting exhibits that would be made public.

A judge ultimately denied the Trump campaign's request on Tuesday, saying that claims alleging the election process is dishonest must be fully brought to light.

The lawsuit was filed hours after the dismissal of another Arizona election lawsuit that contested the use of Sharpie markers in completing Election Day ballots in Maricopa County. Even though election officials have said voting with a Sharpie would not invalidate a ballot.

Georgia

The Trump campaign filed a suit looking to disqualify 53 ballots in Chatham County. The campaign alleges that several ballots may have arrived after the 7 p.m. Election Day deadline, but got mixed in with on-time ballots. County elections officials testified that all 53 ballots had been received on time.

A state judge rejected the suit on Nov. 5.

Michigan

A judge Friday refused to stop the certification of Detroit-area election results, rejecting claims the city had committed fraud and tainted the count with its handling of absentee ballots. It’s the third time a judge has declined to intervene in a statewide count that shows Biden up by more than 140,000 votes.

Trump's campaign alleged election misconduct and asked the state to temporarily delay the counting of votes, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The campaign also tried to halt the counting of absentee ballots alleging that campaign officials had not been given access to observe the process. The request was denied in state court, according to TIME.

On Nov. 10, the campaign said it filed a lawsuit alleging, in part, that their poll watchers were harassed or turned away; the suit asked the secretary of state not to certify the election results. Included in the suit were affidavits from poll watchers who alleged they were kept too far away or that they were targets of intimidation.

Poll watchers have no role in counting votes. According to Reuters reporter Brad Heath, the city of Detroit filed a response in a related case and said what Republican poll watchers thought was evidence of fraud was just things they didn't understand about how elections work. 

"Most of the objections raised in the submitted affidavits are grounded in an extraordinary failure to understand how elections function," the city said in a response.

As of Tuesday, with 99% reporting Biden had 146,000 more votes than Trump in Michigan. 

Nevada

A federal judge rejected a request to stop the use of automated signature-verification machines in Las Vegas-area Clark County, the biggest Democratic stronghold in an otherwise predominantly GOP state. The lawsuit cited an example of a Nevada voter who said she was turned away from voting in-person because a mailed ballot had been cast with her signature. 

But election officials said they had met with the 79-year-old woman, reviewed her ballot and determined the signature was hers, according to the Nevada Independent. They offered the woman a chance to file an affidavit and cast a provisional ballot, but she reportedly refused. 

“Nothing that I’ve seen regarding the election raises a legal issue that could succeed. There is just is nothing there,” said Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush in the 2000 recount in Florida that ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court. “When these kind of lawsuits are filed it just breeds contempt for the whole legal system,” he said.

Pennsylvania

A federal appeals court rejected an effort to block about 9,300 mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day in Pennsylvania. The judges noted the “vast disruption” and “unprecedented challenges” facing the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic as they upheld the three-day extension.

The ruling involves a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to accept mail-in ballots through Friday, Nov. 6, citing the pandemic and concerns about postal service delays.

Republicans have also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the issue. However, there are not enough late-arriving ballots to change the results in Pennsylvania, given Biden's lead. The Democratic former vice president won the state by about 60,000 votes out of about 6.8 million cast.

The Trump campaign or Republican surrogates have filed more than 15 legal challenges in Pennsylvania as they seek to reclaim the state’s 20 electoral votes, but have so far offered no evidence of any widespread voter fraud.

A Philadelphia judge found none as he refused late Friday to reject about 8,300 mail-in ballots there. 

In a lawsuit filed this month against Pennsylvania's secretary of state and seven counties, the Trump campaign sought to stop the certification of the 2020 election results in the state. The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Pennsylvania, allege the commonwealth utilized an illegal "two-tiered" voting system. The campaign alleges the "two-track" system held those who voted in-person to higher standard than those who voted by mail. 

Both are largely equal, secure and protected ways of voting, but the Trump campaign believes the "two-track system" results in Constitutional issues including an Equal Protection Clause violation and Elections and Electors Clauses violation.

"We believe this two-tiered election system resulted in potentially fraudulent votes being counted without proper verification or oversight, as well as many voters being disenfranchised simply for casting their votes in-person,” Matt Morgan, Trump 2020 campaign general counsel, said in a statement.

State officials pushed back on the claims. 

"The Trump campaign’s latest filing is another attempt to throw out legal votes — my team and I were already prepared for this," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro tweeted

Last week, the Trump campaign won an appellate ruling to get party and campaign observers closer to election workers who are processing mail-in ballots in Philadelphia.

Also last week, a federal judge dismissed an emergency request brought by the Trump campaign to stop ballot counting in Philadelphia so long as Republican observers were not present, according to Reuters

There is one election-related case at the Supreme Court and it involves a Republican appeal to exclude ballots that arrived after Election Day in the battleground Pennsylvania. But whether or not those ballots ultimately are counted seems unlikely to affect who gets the state's 20 electoral votes.

Republicans had asked for a high court order ensuring ballots are separated, and Justice Samuel Alito, acting on his own, agreed, saying he was motivated in part by Republicans’ assertion that they can’t be sure elections officials are complying with guidance.

Another lawsuit with ongoing litigation is one against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the state's 67 counties to impose an earlier proof of identification date for those who were not able to on their initial ballots, according to TIME. The presiding judge has ordered ballots to be separated if identification is not provided after Nov. 9.

Local Republicans filed a separate suit alleging the secretary of state subverted state law when she issued guidance encouraging all of the state's 67 counties to allow voters to "cure" incorrectly filed mail-in ballots to ensure the votes were counted, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. A state judge denied GOP requests to exclude all votes statewide by people warned of deficiencies in their mail ballots, but the judge ordered officials to keep those ballots separate, in case of further court rulings. 

A Pennsylvania judge sided with Trump’s campaign and ordered counties not to count a small number of mail-in or absentee ballots for which the voter didn’t submit valid identification within six days after the Nov. 3 election.

Latest vote counts in key states

Biden is projected to have 290 votes in the Electoral College to Trump’s 232, according to The Associated Press’ analysis of vote counts in all 50 states. The AP has not yet determined the winner in Georgia. It called North Carolina for Trump on Friday.

Biden won the states Trump targeted as allegedly tainted by fraud, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with the exception of uncalled Georgia.

On Nov. 7, nearly all of the major media outlets with designated election experts and statisticians, including AP, ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX and NBC, projected Biden as president-elect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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