Trump’s Election Legal Challenges Are Struggling for Evidence


President Donald Trump’s desperate bid to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election results appears to be short one of the key ingredients needed to make allegations of voter fraud: evidence. As concerns about an attempted coup persist after Democratic nominee Joe Biden was declared the projected winner, those fears can be tempered by the ineptitude of Trump and his allies in prosecuting the case in both the court of public opinion and in actual courts.

First, consider the front page of the New York Times today, November 11. The story features expansive reporting, as Times staff called top election officials in all 50 states looking for any evidence of the alleged voter fraud Trump has claimed cost him the election. They heard back from 45 and were able find public comments or get other statewide officials on the record for four others.

“There’s a great human capacity for inventing things that aren’t true about elections,” Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Frank LaRose, told the Times. “The conspiracy theories and rumors and all those things run rampant. For some reason, elections breed that type of mythology.”

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Ohio went for Trump and so did Texas, the final state the Times hadn’t heard from but where they did speak to officials from Harris County (which includes the city of Houston and more Texas voters than anywhere else in the state), who called the election “seamless.” But at least one prominent name in the state’s leadership seems committed to Trump’s voter fraud gambit — or, as they put it, “supports President Trump’s efforts to identify voter fraud in the presidential election.”

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, the Texas Republican known for a 2017 anti-trans bathroom bill among other things, has offered a $1 million reward for information about voter fraud despite, as the AP reported, concerns about whether this would be legal under federal campaign finance law. The Texas Tribune reported Republicans dominated in the Texas elections despite hopes the state might look more purple than red in 2020.

“Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced that starting today he will pay up to $1 million to incentivize, encourage, and reward people to come forward and report voter fraud,” a statement from Patrick’s office released Tuesday said. “Whistleblowers and tipsters should turn over their evidence to local law enforcement. Anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and final conviction of voter fraud will be paid a minimum of $25,000.”

Republican Senator Ted Cruz, also of Texas, is among the president’s big-name GOP supporters at the federal level. The concerted effort to question the election’s legitimacy appears to be trickling out into the public consciousness, with Rasmussen Reports, a group some say has a pro-GOP lean, finding in a survey of 1,000 likely voters that 28% of respondents said they weren’t confident their state would correctly record and report election results. But compare that to 71% who were confident, including 47% who were very confident.

Trump’s struggle to mount a cogent attack on the election’s legitimacy in the media — perhaps most potently embodied by the Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference fiasco — mirrors how the various legal efforts he’s making in different states are playing out. As NPR reported Tuesday in an in-depth, state-by-state look at several of Trump’s lawsuits, they’re characterized by having no meaningful effect on election results and a lack of evidence.



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