Post Election Attacks on Voting Rights

By Hubert Plummer posted 8 days ago

  

Well, we seem to have made it through Election Day.  I’ve written before of the efforts by the Republicans to make it harder for minorities to vote.  That didn’t seem to work and Election Day 2020 had the highest turnout in modern history at 66.6% of the eligible voting population and a little over 159,000 total voters.[i]  The previous leader was 1908 with 65.4% when Taft beat Jennings.[ii]

As we can see now, the Republicans continue to fight the results of the election.  Their primary focus is claiming voter fraud with no evidence and going into states and filing lawsuit trying to get valid votes thrown out.

The Trump campaign has filed at least 19 suits in 6 states.[iii]  Of the six cases brought in Michigan, three were dropped and three were dismissed.  In Arizona, one case brought was dropped and another was dismissed.  Two cases in Nevada: one was dismissed and the other, with similar claims, is pending.  In Georgia, one case was dropped and the other is pending. The one case in Wisconsin has been dropped. Of the seven cases in Pennsylvania, three were dismissed, two are pending, and one was dropped. 

In the only case to get any traction, a small number of mail in ballots had been set aside because the voter failed to provide proof of identification.  Under state law, those voters had until November 9 to provide that proof.  Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State extended that deadline by three days based on an earlier court decision extending the deadline for receipt of mail in ballots.  These ballots had not been counted or included in any of the results.  A state judge ruled that the extension was improper.  Since these ballots had not been counted, the ruling does not change the results in any way.[iv]

In Wisconsin the Trump Campaign has requested a recount in two counties and put up three million dollars to pay for it.  Biden won Wisconsin by over 20,000 votes.  The two counties are Milwaukee and Dane.  In Dane County, Biden leads 76% to 23% and in Milwaukee Biden leads 69% to 29%.  Those two counties are the most racially diverse, with the highest percentage of African Americans, in the state.  Even if they were able to flip Wisconsin, it wouldn’t be enough to change the ultimate result.[v]

Another example of the President’s attempts to discredit the election is his accusation that a dead woman in Georgia voted.  He claimed that Deborah Jean Christiansen voted, yet had been dead since 2019.  As you might expect, they ignored the fact that there was another woman with the same name, born in the same year who was very much alive and voted legally.[vi]

These lawsuits have so little in the way of merit; many of the attorneys for Trump’s campaign are withdrawing.  Lawyers can face some serious penalties for bringing frivolous lawsuits and wasting the Court’s time and resources.  Those penalties range from fines to disbarment. Detroit has asked for sanctions against the Trump Campaign.[vii]

In fact, the suits brought by the Trump campaign were challenging so few ballots that they would not change the results in any of the states.  So why do it?  Other than a pure ego trip, the only explanation is that the Trump campaign is trying to undermine the public’s faith in the election process, thus generating support for the idea that the results should not be certified.

Each state must certify the results of their elections, usually a job for the Secretary of State and Governor.  Once those results are certified, they are sent to Congress along with that state’s Electoral College delegates.  The deadline for this is December 8, 2020.  The electors then gather to vote on December 14.  The results of that vote go to Congress which will certify the results.

Many of the lawsuits filed are attempting to delay the various states’ process so that they miss the December 8th deadline.  If that happens, the state’s legislature can appoint the delegates.  If the legislature is controlled by the Republicans, they could appoint delegates in opposition to the voters’ will.[viii] [ix]

This is all very unlikely to occur and is the last gasp of a desperate man, but it can have lasting effects on public’s confidence in our election process.

As I write this, the news keeps happening and it looks like Georgia had completed its recount and announced Biden was the winner.[x]

[i] http://www.electproject.org/2020g

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1908_United_States_presidential_election

[iii] https://nyti.ms/3lumEPy

[iv]https://fusion.inquirer.com/news/pennsylvania-election-trump-lawsuits-legal-challenves-id-mail-ballots-commonwealth-court-20201112.html

[v] https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/paulmcleod/trump-wisconsin-recount-black-voters

[vi] https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/18/politics/fact-check-georgia-dead-voter-deborah-jean-christiansen/index.html

[vii] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-michigan-lawsuit/detroit-asks-judge-to-sanction-trump-campaign-for-spreading-disinformation-idUSKBN2802M8

[viii] https://nyti.ms/3fdGb4o

[ix] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-strategy/trumps-election-power-play-persuade-republican-legislators-to-do-what-u-s-voters-did-not-idUSKBN27Z30G

[x] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election/georgia-pours-cold-water-on-trump-bid-to-overturn-biden-win-idUSKBN2800I5 


The author[s] is solely responsible for this blog submission.  It does not represent the position of the New York State Bar Association or its Committee.

 

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