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Most Republican lawsuits challenging election results in battleground states haven't gone far

Even before Democrat Joe Biden was projected to be the winner of the presidential election, President Donald Trump's campaign and Republican allies started pursuing lawsuits over voting and ballot counting. 

Cases filed in five key states alleged ballots had errors because voters were required to use Sharpies, observers didn't have enough access to monitor ballot counting, and that late-arriving mail ballots were improperly mixed with legal votes.

Judges Have Dismissed Most Cases Quickly, Often For Lack Of Evidence.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court could issue a ruling at any time on the Republican Party of Pennsylvania's request for Lawsuits After Challenger Explosion an emergency injunction to block the processing of mail and absentee ballots that were received during the three days after the normal deadline on Election Day. The high court could also decide to conduct a full review of GOP arguments that the deadline extension was unconstitutional.

And Monday evening, the Trump campaign filed a federal suit in Pennsylvania alleging voters were treated differently depending on whether they voted by mail or in person, creating an unconstitutional, “two-tiered” system.

Here's what has happened with voting lawsuits in key states, starting with the state with the most action.

Why Donald Trump isn't Al Gore: How 2020 legal challenges to the election differ from 2000


In the suit filed Monday night, the Trump campaign claims mail-in voting did not include the same safeguards as in-person voting, lawsuit challenges the refusal-of-care rule including adequate verification of voters’ identities and monitoring by observers. It took issue with the counting of ballots received up to three days after the election.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction preventing the state from certifying election results, according to a copy of the complaint.

It joins a flurry of suits and legal briefs filed Pennsylvania News by the Trump campaign, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, and others alleging problems with a controversial three-day extension for voters to return mail ballots, the rights of people to observe ballot counting, and the process for “curing” ballots when mistakes are made. 

Arguably the most consequential cases involve challenges to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that upheld a three-day extension of the deadline for accepting mail and absentee votes. 

Opponents of the extension have argued it was unconstitutional because it sidestepped the Pennsylvania Times lawmakers who enacted the deadline in 2019. The Secretary of State’s office has argued the extension was a reasonable accommodation for voters given the coronavirus pandemic and mail delays. 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the extension. 

Now, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania has asked the U.S Supreme Court. to order county election boards to segregate and take no action on mail and absentee ballots that were received after Election Day.  

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, on Friday night ordered the state's county elections officials to keep separate mail-in ballots that arrived after 8 p.m. on Election Day. 

The high court could issue a ruling on an injunction at any time, as it considers a broader application for a full review of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling. However, Pennsylvania Sports the outcome of the case might have little impact on the Pennsylvania results in the presidential race.  

In a Saturday filing, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State said all election boards had kept late ballots separate and tallied them apart from other ballots. That means late-arriving ballots were not included in the vote totals that media organizations relied on to project Biden as the winner of Pennsylvania on Saturday. 

But the legal battle continues. Monday, the Ohio attorney general filed a brief backing the Pennsylvania GOP’s application for an emergency injunction. 

In state court, the Trump campaign argued that one of its observers was kept too far away from ballot counting in Philadelphia. 

A trial-level court ruled there had been no violation of the state’s election code. However, an appeals court overturned that ruling and directed that the observer be allowed to get within six feet of the counting process, subject to COVID-19 protections. On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court agreed to consider an appeal of that ruling. 

A few Republican candidates filed other lawsuits arguing county boards of elections had violated Pennsylvania’s election code by contacting voters who had made mistakes on their ballots and giving them an opportunity to “cure” the ballots by making corrections. So far, those lawsuits have not succeeded in disqualifying ballots. 

The Trump campaign has sued in Maricopa County, alleging Arizona voters were given Sharpie markers to make selections, and when vote tabulation machines flagged some ballots as defective, poll workers improperly overrode the warnings and caused some votes to go uncounted. 

The lawsuit alleges that “up to thousands” of ballots were improperly processed. Because Trump was favored by voters who cast ballots in person on Election Day, plaintiffs allege, errors would have benefited Biden. 

As of Tuesday, Biden led Trump in Arizona by about 14,750 votes. 

The lawsuit includes affidavits from voters and poll workers saying voting machines flagged some ballots for having multiple selections in a single race. Biden vs Trump they say voters weren’t informed of the problems or poll workers processed the ballots anyway. When a ballot has multiple choices in a race, no vote is tallied in that race. 

State elections officials have denied ballots that were tabulated improperly. They say Sharpies work best because they dry instantly and don’t smear. In a letter to Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office decried “Sharpiegate” as an “unfounded conspiracy theory.”  

During a preliminary hearing Monday, Thomas Liddy, representing Maricopa County, said voting machines there flagged just 180 ballots for an “overvote” in the presidential race, out of 155,860 ballots cast on Election Day. 

Meanwhile, a top state lawmaker has called for an independent expert to evaluate the vote count. Biden Pennsylvania In a letter to Hobbs, Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, did not suggest the results are in question, but a review would “help to restore credibility and hopefully end the current controversy over fairness in the election process.” 


The Trump campaign and Georgia Republicans went to court Georgia News the day after the election, alleging the Chatham County Board of Elections had improperly intermingled ineligible ballots with valid ones. 

A judge dismissed the case the next day for lack of evidence. 

Colin McRae, chairman of the Chatham County Board of Registrars, told a judge he looked at all 53 ballots in question, and they all had been received before the 7 p.m. deadline on Election Day.  

He said 41 absentee ballots were received after the deadline and were placed in a secure location to ensure they were not counted.


A Michigan judge threw out a Trump campaign lawsuit last week seeking an order that the Secretary of State provide “meaningful access” for observers to watch ballot counting and allow it to view videotaped surveillance of ballot drop boxes.  

The judge said the secretary had already issued a directive providing access to observers, the counting was complete, and there was no legal basis to provide videos. The judge dismissed as hearsay an affidavit from a Republican poll watcher in Detroit alleging she heard about a date on a ballot being improperly altered. 

The Trump campaign is appealing the case.   

Republican lawmakers in Michigan have Trump Campaign News launched an investigation into the election, issuing subpoenas to state elections officials. GOP state Rep. Matt Hall, R-Marshall, said the investigation is needed "to provide needed clarity to concerned residents," but House Minority Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, said it was "a desperate attempt by Republican legislators to cast a shadow of doubt over the legitimacy of our election." 

An election reporting error — since corrected — in one Michigan county has helped fuel a conspiracy theory amplified on far-right sites and on Twitter by President Trump. The day after the election, it appeared Biden had beaten Trump by 3,000 votes in Antrim County. The county posted revised figures Friday showing Trump beat Biden there by about 2,500 votes. The Michigan Secretary of State said there had been a computer error. 

Another error in vote-counting in Rochester County was corrected. A Republican city clerk supervised a vote count that wrongly gave victory to a Democrat. A Democratic county clerk's staffer caught the error and requested a correction, handing the win to a Republican. 


Republicans have brought cases in state and federal court alleging poll watchers had inadequate access to observe ballot counting and that there are problems with the software used to match signatures on mail ballots.

In one case, the Nevada Supreme Court last week declined to stop the counting of mail-in ballots in southern Nevada but called for filings in the case this week. Nevada News In another, the Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans reached an agreement with elections officials allowing additional observers to keep an eye on proceedings at the Clark County election center. 

A federal judge denied a GOP request Friday to stop Nevada elections officials from using signature-matching software to process ballots. The judge said there was little or no evidence to suggest the signature-matching programs were faulty, and perhaps even less evidence to suggest a human could do the job better.  

The case, filed Thursday against Nevada elections officials, hinges in part on a claim by a 79-year-old blind Las Vegas resident who said she wasn’t allowed to vote in person because an absentee ballot with her signature had already been cast. 

The Nevada Republican Party has asked the Department of Justice to investigate its allegation that about 3,000 nonresidents cast ballots in the state. Nevada Columbus Day Clark County Registrar of Voters Joseph Gloria said he would look into the allegation, but out-of-state voters are common, including those serving in the military, university students, and elected officials in Washington, D.C.  

The complaint, he said, “is based on something that happens regularly. You don't have to live here to be eligible to vote here."  

The federal lawsuit over signature matching also alleges ineligible voters cast ballots but doesn’t provide any evidence. 

Contributing: USA TODAY Network reporters Paul Egan, Dave Boucher and Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press; Anjeanette Damon, James DeHaven and Ed Komenda of the Reno Gazette-Journal; Andrew Oxford and Maria Polletta, Arizona Republic.

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