KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Trump and his campaign filed legal challenges in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia a day after the election.
His legal team also said it was considering lawsuits in other states that were still counting votes that could decide the election and called for a recounts in Wisconsin.
Those challenges center mostly around late arriving mail-in ballots and the campaign’s access to monitor the counting process.
The Trump campaign said it’s calling for a temporary halt in the counting in Michigan and Pennsylvania until it is given “meaningful” access in numerous locations and allowed to review ballots that already have been opened and processed.
But there are questions whether those challenges will ultimately end up at the Supreme Court and how much these lawsuits might erode confidence in the election process.
UMKC political science professor Greg Vonnahme is teaching a course on election administration in the context of COVID-19 this semester.
“That’s one thing we talked about on the very first day that there is a margin of error to this election, and if it falls within that margin, we will probably go through a very long ugly legal challenge,” Vonnahme said.
On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani, part of President Trump’s legal team, announced they were challenging numerous aspects of the election in several states and could challenge the entire election at the federal level.
“Since this is a novel procedure, this mail-in thing, observation is particularly important to satisfy the possibility that you can defraud,” the former New York City mayor said.
Peter Hatzipetros spent election night speaking to voters who filed complaints in Pennsylvania on behalf of the Lawyers for Trump Foundation.
“I think the American people just need to know what in God’s name is going on when they stop counting last night and everybody wakes up today and the threshold that was needed for Joe Biden in votes is met,” said Hatzipetros, president of the Petros Law Group.
He thinks the challenges will head to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Vonnahme said that may not happen.
“There have been a lot of lawsuits that have already been filed and decided around this election. The Supreme Court and a lot of conservative justices have constrained themselves in many ways. They’ve expressed a deep reticence in getting involved in state election decisions,” he said.
The UMKC professor said if the margin shrinks, the legal challenges will likely only mount with focuses also on voter intent and voter eligibility. And while some may say an election decided in the courts undermines the process, the Lawyers for Trump Foundation hope it validates the will of the voters.
“It warrants a second look is all I’ll say, without any political partisanship. If we lose faith in our election process, I think that’s the last straw to break the camel’s back,” Hatzipetros said.
So what are the possible outcomes? The late mail-in ballots could be thrown out in Pennsylvania, but that would likely represent a very small percentage of ballots.
As far as allegations of election impropriety, Vonnahme said election officials could be admonished, but it’s unlikely it would cause ballots to be thrown out.