Trump and his allies filed more than 40 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results. All of them failed.
- Trump and allies filed dozens of lawsuits in an effort to contest the results of the
- His campaign filed lawsuits and motions to intervene in cases in several swing states.
- They've notched zero victories.
After losing the 2020 election to a man he spent months hammering as corrupt, doddering, and mentally deficient, President
Before the Capitol insurrection on January 6, Trump's claims alternated between demanding that some states stop counting ballots, which he didn't have the power to do, and saying that others should keep counting, which they were doing anyway.
To that end, the Trump campaign, Republican allies, and Trump himself had mounted at least 42 legal challenges since Election Day.
They've won zero. President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20.
The lawsuits argued that states and counties violated election laws, playing into Trump's political strategy to discredit the results of the 2020 election. The House impeached him a second time in January, charging him with inciting an insurrection, and the Senate acquitted him on February 13.
Republicans filed the lawsuits in local, state, and federal courts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and
The Trump campaign initially had a single win, when a Pennsylvania judge ruled on November 12 that first-time voters were supposed to confirm their IDs with county boards of election by November 9, rather than November 12. The decision opened the door to disqualify the ballots of people who didn't verify their IDs in time. But the state Supreme Court later overturned that decision.
Here's what happened with all of Trump's election lawsuits.
Here's a list of the lawsuits and where they stand
Direct appeals to the Supreme Court - 3 losses
- Several Republican politicians, led by Rep. Mike Kelly, asked the US Supreme Court to block the certification of Pennsylvania's election results. The court turned down the case.
TexasAttorney General Ken Paxton sued Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsinin the US Supreme Court seeking to overturn their election results. The Supreme Court rejected the case.
- The Trump campaign asked the US Supreme Court to overturn three decisions from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over various technical rules regarding absentee and
mail-in ballots. The court rejected the case on February 22, declaring it moot.
Pennsylvania - 13 losses
- The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit asking a state appeals court to reject the Pennsylvania secretary of state's announcement that registered voters had until November 12 to provide proof of identity for mail-in ballots. Republicans believe the deadline should be November 9. This is the one case that Trump won, before the state Supreme Court overturned the lower court decision.
- In a wide-ranging federal lawsuit, the Trump campaign sued over alleged irregularities in the way ballots were counted throughout the state. They've argued that 14,000 votes should be thrown out. The campaign submitted a revised version of the lawsuit days later that retracted many of its original allegations. A judge threw out the case, saying Trump's lawyers presented the court "with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpaid in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence." An appeal of the case also failed.
- Another federal lawsuit brought by Republicans sought to delay the deadline for ballot requests. The judge rejected it.
- A third federal lawsuit sought to stop the Montgomery County Board of Elections from allowing voters to "cure" their ballots - a process that allows people to fix clerical errors on their ballots to make sure their votes count. Republicans abandoned the lawsuit and withdrew from the case.
- The campaign sued in yet another federal case to stop Philadelphia County from counting votes without Republicans present. The judge dismissed the case after Trump's lawyers said Republican election watchers were, in fact, present.
- In another Montgomery County case, this one filed in a local court, Trump's lawyers sought to stop the county from counting mail-in ballots. The lawyers withdrew from the case.
- A lawsuit in Bucks County filed by Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette on Election Day made a technical challenge on the county's method of organizing ballots before counting them. She withdrew the case two days later and lost the election.
- The Trump campaign appealed that Bucks County case soon afterward, but a judge rejected it and pointed out in his ruling that fraud wasn't an issue.
- In a state court, Republicans challenged an instruction from the Secretary of State's office regarding provisional ballots. A state appellate court judge dismissed the request but ordered the secretary of state to segregate provisional ballots in case their validity becomes contested.
- Local Republicans sought to stop Northampton County from revealing the identities of people whose ballots were canceled and lost the case.
- A group of Pennsylvania Republicans lost at the state Supreme Court with a lawsuit trying to invalidate absentee voting after the voting period already ended, and trying to block the certification of election results.
- Another group of Republicans filed a similar lawsuit and lost.
- The Trump campaign filed a motion to intervene in a Supreme Court case brought by Republicans that centers on the deadline by which Pennsylvania officials are allowed to receive ballots. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled that officials could receive ballots until November 6 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. Republicans appealed the decision to the high court, which was deadlocked at 4-4 because Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate, leaving the lower court's ruling in place. The Supreme Court signaled it could hear the case again but has not granted the request to intervene.
Nevada - 4 losses
- The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit requesting that ballots stop being counted in the state over concerns about signature-matching technology and election observers' claims that they weren't being allowed to watch ballots being processed closely enough. The Nevada Supreme Court denied the request.
- The Trump campaign and the RNC filed a lawsuit in state court asking to stop ballot counting in Clark County - a heavily Democratic area - until GOP officials could observe the process. A district judge rejected the request on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not have evidence to back up their allegations. Republicans appealed the case to the Nevada Supreme Court, which said on November 5 that the campaign and Republican officials had reached a settlement that allowed expanded ballot observation. They later withdrew the case.
- A group of Republicans dropped a lawsuit in Clark County challenging mail-in ballots, including those sent by members of the military.
- The Trump campaign filed a different lawsuit in Carson City District Court alleging multiple irregularities that the campaign claimed, without providing specific evidence, would be enough to overturn the election results in Nevada and flip the state to Trump. It failed.
Georgia - 5 losses
- A judge in Chatham County denied the Trump campaign's request to toss out 53 ballots that a GOP poll watcher said arrived after polls closed at 7 p.m. on November 3. The Washington Post reported that the poll watcher presented no evidence in court that the ballots came in late and that county officials testified that they were received in time.
- Republican elector Lin Wood, whose attorney also represents the Trump campaign, sued to stop vote certification because. He argued that because the Georgia Secretary of State agreed to allow signature matching on ballots - a measure designed to prevent voter fraud - eight months before the election, his rights as an individual voter had been infringed upon. A state judge dismissed the case, saying the arguments have "no basis in fact and law."
- Wood filed another lawsuit in federal court and lost that one as well, losing again upon appeal.
- Sidney Powell, who was kicked off of Trump's legal team after spreading numerous conspiracy theories about election fraud, filed a federal lawsuit in Georgia alleging widespread election fraud. A federal judge quickly dismissed the case, calling it "extraordinary" that the lawsuit sought to disqualify the votes of millions of voters.
- Nearly two months after he lost the election, Trump sued Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brian Raffensperger seeking to "de-certify" the election, arguing that it wasn't carried out in accordance with Georgia law. Trump withdrew the case on January 7, according to court records reviewed by Insider.
Michigan - 5 losses
- In a federal lawsuit, the Trump campaign alleged a number of irregularities - such as that GOP election observers were told to stand six feet away from ballot counters because of the coronavirus - meant that Michigan should not certify its votes. The Trump campaign withdrew the lawsuit, with Rudy Giuliani falsely declaring it achieved the result the campaign wanted.
- A judge on the Michigan Court of Claims denied the Trump campaign's request to stop counting ballots in the state. Judge Cynthia Stephens said litigating the issue didn't make sense given that ballots in Michigan had more or less been fully counted.
- A poll challenger named Sarah Stoddard and a group called the Election Integrity Fund filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the certification of election results in Detroit, claiming that absentee ballots were improperly reviewed. Judge Timothy Kenny denied the motion on the grounds that there was no proof that election oversight protocol hadn't been followed. Kenny issued another ruling later denying other motions, including a request for an additional audit of the election.
- A Republican-aligned law firm called the Great Lakes Justice Center filed a lawsuit in Wayne County's Circuit Court against Detroit and Wayne County alleging "massive fraud in the election vote-counting procedures" and calling for an entirely new election. A judge denied the case.
- Trump ally Sidney Powell also has a federal lawsuit pending in Michigan. It asks the judge to "de-certify" the state's electoral votes, which have already gone to Biden. The lawsuit has numerous typos and cites voting statistics from a county that does not exist. A judge ruled against her and issued a scathing 35-page opinion tearing it down on multiple fronts. She has appealed it all the way to the Supreme Court, which has not yet decided whether to take the case.
Arizona - 4 losses
- The Trump campaign joined a lawsuit brought by two Republicans in Maricopa County claiming that a substantial number of GOP ballots were invalidated because voters used Sharpies to fill in their choices. There is no evidence that using Sharpies leads to issues with scanning ballots, and, in fact, officials have said using Sharpies is preferred. The Post also reported that the Maricopa County attorney's office said no ballots were rejected and that if they are, voters have an opportunity to cast another one. A Republican-aligned group abandoned the legal fight after Maricopa County officials challenged the factual basis for the lawsuit, and the Trump campaign lost the fight soon afterward.
- The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in state court alleging that Maricopa County was improperly rejecting ballots cast by some voters. The lawsuit was dismissed after an audit found no problems with the votes.
- Arizona's Supreme Court unanimously rejected a case from the state GOP chair Kelli Ward, saying the facts she presented were incorrect and that she "fails to present any evidence of misconduct."
- Powell filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn election results as well, based on a conspiracy theory about voting machines used in the state. A judge dismissed the case.
Wisconsin - 7 losses
- The Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected a case from the Trump campaign seeking to overturn election results.
- Trump personally filed a similar lawsuit in a federal court in Wisconsin. A Trump-appointed federal judge said he had standing to bring the case - a rare departure from other judges - and then ruled against him. An appeal failed as well, with the author of the appellate opinion also a Trump appointee.
- Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a right-wing group, sued the state elections commission and asked the state Supreme Court to throw out votes and have the Republican-controlled state legislature select the electoral college winner themselves. The state Supreme Court rejected it, saying it had little basis in fact.
- Wisconsin Voter Alliance also sued a number of defendants in Washington, DC, including Vice President Mike Pence, both houses of Congress, and the Electoral College, trying to block the certification of Wisconsin's votes as well as those of other states. A federal judge threw out the case, blasted it as an attempted "undermining of a democratic election" full of falsehoods, and said he would refer the attorneys for sanctions.
- Another lawsuit backed by the Republican-aligned Amos Center for Justice and Liberty argued that the use of ballot drop-boxes was illegal. It also asked that the state Supreme Court should throw out every vote cast and have the GOP legislature select the state's electoral votes. A judge ruled it moot.
- A lawsuit from Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, another Trump ally, makes numerous conspiratorial claims about the election. A federal judge criticized it for containing errors and typos, and one person listed as plaintiff said they never signed up to be a part of the lawsuit, later dismissing the case.
- Trump and Pence personally sued Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a state court seeking to overturn votes in two Wisconsin counties with large Black populations, both of which sided with Democrats. A judge threw out the case. When Trump appealed the case, another judge rejected it and said it "smacks of racism." An appeal to the Supreme Court also failed.
New Mexico - one loss
- The Trump campaign sued the state over what it claims was the illegal use of ballot drop boxes after the state had already certified its results and sent them to the Electoral College. It dropped the claim in January.
Key cases and Supreme Court rulings before Election Day
In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court ruled that election officials could receive mail-in ballots until November 6 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. Republicans requested an immediate stay from the US Supreme Court that would have blocked the state Supreme Court's ruling.
But the US Supreme Court was deadlocked at 4-4, leaving the lower court's ruling in place. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito voted to grant Republicans' request, while Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to participate in the case "because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties' filings," the court said in a statement. However, Barrett has not recused herself, meaning she could cast a decisive fifth vote when the Supreme Court takes up the case again.
In a similar case brought by Republicans in North Carolina, the Supreme Court ruled that ballots received up to nine days after November 3 could be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
The decision came after the Trump campaign and Republicans asked in two separate cases for the high court to put back in place a June statute from the state's Republican-controlled Legislature that would have allowed ballots to be counted only if they were received up to three days - not nine - after Election Day.
Five justices - Roberts, Kavanaugh, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor - ruled against reinstating the statute. Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas dissented, while Barrett did not participate in the North Carolina case.
Republicans notched a victory in a case involving the deadline to receive ballots in Wisconsin. The US Supreme Court ruled against reviving an appeals court decision that would have allowed election officials to receive absentee ballots up to six days after Election Day.
The court's five conservative justices - Roberts, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Alito - ruled against reviving the lower court's ruling, while the three liberals - Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor - dissented.
The Wisconsin case made headlines because of Kavanaugh's and Kagan's dueling opinions.
Kavanaugh, a Trump-appointed justice who was confirmed to the high court in 2018, wrote in a concurring opinion that all ballots should be received by Election Day.
"Those States want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election," he wrote. "And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter."
Kagan fired back in a sharp dissent, taking issue with Kavanaugh's assertion that the arrival of absentee ballots after Election Day could "flip" the results of the race.
"Justice Kavanaugh alleges that 'suspicions of impropriety' will result if 'absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election,'" she wrote. "But there are no results to 'flip' until all valid votes are counted. And nothing could be more 'suspicio[us]' or 'improp[er]' than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night. To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process."
A federal court in Texas and the state's Supreme Court denied two Republican requests to throw out nearly 130,000 ballots that were cast via drive-thru polling sites in Harris County, one of Texas' most heavily Democratic areas.
The Texas Supreme Court rejected a request from Republican candidates and activists to toss the ballots. US District Judge Andrew Hanen, appointed by President George W. Bush, reached the same conclusion and denied the second request from GOP candidates and a right-wing radio host.
Hanen ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to sue and ask that ballots that were legally cast be discounted. However, he ordered the county to set aside the 127,000 ballots in case an appeals court disagreed with him and ultimately threw those votes out.
This article has been updated.
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