Republican Lawsuits Cannot Deliver the Evidence Trump Needs To Prove He Actually Won the Election
After last week’s election, Donald Trump supporters in Nevada claimed that 10,000 people had voted illegally in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. Even assuming that all 10,000 voted for Joe Biden, that would not have been enough for Trump to win Nevada, where the former vice president beat him by nearly 37,000 votes. Still, such a large number of illegal ballots would have counted as serious and substantial voting fraud. But by the time Republicans filed a lawsuit challenging the results in Clark County, The Washington Post notes, the claim of 10,000 fraudulent votes “had been whittled down drastically” to a single case involving a woman who said her mail-in ballot had been stolen, although the signature on it matched hers.
That incident illustrates a broader pattern. While the president insists the election was “stolen” through large-scale, orchestrated fraud, the post-election lawsuits fall notably short of making that case. With the exception of the dubious argument that the longstanding practice of voting by mail is inherently unconstitutional, the claims in the lawsuits, even if accepted as true, are weak tea compared to the strong brew cooked up by the president, who alleges a vast anti-Trump conspiracy that denied him his rightful victory.
“Even Trump’s campaign and allies do not allege widespread fraud or an election-changing conspiracy,” the Post notes. “Instead, GOP groups for the most part have focused on smaller-bore complaints in an effort to delay the counting of ballots or claims that would affect a small fraction of votes, at best.”
Consider Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral votes clinched Biden’s election. Trump was dismayed that his initial lead in Pennsylvania disappeared as election officials counted mail-in ballots, which strongly favored Biden, largely because Trump had for months discouraged his supporters from using that method. According to Trump, corrupt Democrats in Pennsylvania were determined to “find” enough ballots—hundreds of thousands, by his account—to assure Biden’s victory. In the end, Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 47,000 votes.
Tasked with substantiating Trump’s claim that he actually won Pennsylvania, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany started a press conference on Monday by agreeing that Democrats are corrupt. But unlike Trump, who claims Democratic election officials manufactured phony votes, McEnany suggested their role was more passive. By opposing election security measures such as voter ID laws, she said, Democrats are “welcoming fraud” and “welcoming illegal voting.”
In McEnany’s account, Democrats looked the other way when Biden supporters cast illegal ballots. But if that alleged laxness delivered Pennsylvania to Biden, it still would have required hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes, cast by people who independently decided to risk severe criminal penalties in the hope that enough Biden supporters would do likewise to defeat Trump. Given what we know about the rarity of such crimes in prior elections, this theory is even less believable than the orchestrated corruption that the president imagines.
When McEnany ventured beyond vague insinuations, she averred that Democrats were “trying to keep [Republican] observers out of the count room.” Last week, Republicans used that claim in a vain attempt to halt vote counting in Philadelphia “so long as Republican observers are not present.” The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleged that the Philadelphia County Board of Elections “is intentionally refusing
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