WASHINGTON (HPD) — The election is 12 days away, but courts across the country are already grappling with efforts to cast doubt on the results.
More than 100 lawsuits related to the November 8 midterm elections have been filed. The questions, generally from Republicans, focus more than anything on the rules that govern voting by mail, early voting, access to the polls, the equipment to be used, voter registration, the counting of absentee ballots and access of the match observers.
If there are already so many questions before the vote, it is expected that the same will happen after. The strategy seems to be a reaction to the failed efforts of Donald Trump and his allies to ignore a clean victory for Joe Biden in the 2020 elections.
On that occasion, Trump’s lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, were not prepared to go to court. Current efforts, by contrast, are more formal, coordinated by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and renowned allies. Party leaders say they are preparing for recounts, challenges and other litigation. Thousands of volunteers are ready to search for evidence of wrongdoing.
“We have reached a point where parties take into account the votes to be challenged when making their voter turnout calculations,” said Benajamin Ginsberg, co-chair of the Election Official Legal Defense Network and a former adviser to the George George campaigns. W. Bush and other Republican politicians. “Republicans denounce fraud. Democrats complain that they restrict the vote. And both parties amplify their positions with costly lawsuits and declarations.”
The CNR says that it has a team in charge of ensuring the “integrity of the elections”, for which it pays millions of dollars. He hired 37 lawyers in key states, held more than 5,000 workshops to train volunteers to find fraud — something that happens in very rare cases — and filed 73 lawsuits in 20 states. There are other efforts, like that of American First Legal, a group headed by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller.
“We launched an unprecedented effort to ensure the integrity of the elections and ensure that the November midterm elections are free, fair and transparent,” Ronna McDaniel, president of the CNR, said last month.
Democrats, for their part, seek to make voting easier and help those who are denied the chance to vote. A team led by attorney Marc Elias and his firm are working on some 40 lawsuits in 19 states, several of them initiated by Republicans.
Elias said he is bracing himself for a barrage of questions about the election results. Some Republican candidates have already said they will not accept the results if they lose or cast doubt on the electoral process despite no evidence of fraud.
“The problem with the Republican Party is that admitting defeat in an election is the only thing that can hurt them,” Elias said. “The current structure pushes to question the results of a clearly lost election and that is very damaging to democracy.”
Almost always in elections there are legal questions. But they are usually given after the vote.
In 2020, Trump lawyers filed some 60 lawsuits in which they asked the judges to ignore the results. They were all rejected. Trump’s own people verified that the election had been fair and authorities found no evidence of major fraud.
Initially, the Republican establishment did not repeat Trump’s lies about the elections. But over time, the party changed and now it spreads falsehoods.
Ginsberg said unsubstantiated fraud allegations are the tool Republicans used to win contested primary races.
“That affects public confidence in the election, something Republicans will end up paying for,” he said.
For three decades, the CNR was prevented from questioning the results by an agreement that expired in 2019. It made that commitment after the Democratic National Committee said in court that the Republicans placed armed guards in some voting centers to try to discourage black voters to cast their ballots and sent letters warning that any irregularity would be punished.
In 2020, allegations by Republican observers who played no official role, authorized only to watch the vote, without intervening, were the basis of numerous lawsuits. But when the judges asked for evidence, they had none.
The personnel who will work in the voting centers have been harassed and have received threats. Voter intimidation is on the rise, raising concerns that aggressive observers, or people posing as observers, are trying to intimidate voters.
Ahead of the 2020 elections, authorities warned against possible foreign interference, from Russia and perhaps China. But election officials and the Trump administration itself said it was the safest election in history. It was Trump and his supporters who launched conspiracy theories.