What Exactly is Happening With the Election Count?
Special to Belaaz:
This past weekend Joe Biden announced himself as President Elect. The media quickly fell in line, declaring the Trump era over and even insisting that anyone who disagrees is a conspiracy theorist. Questioning the results, the media, which includes Facebook and Twitter, is “baseless” allegations.
President Trump, however, has not conceded the race. He claims that when all is said and done — and all illegal votes thrown out — he will emerge as the winner and lead the country for another four years. He is basing his confidence on an array of lawsuits and series of election fraud claims.
So, what is it? Who is ahead? And what are Trump’s odds of winning?
Firstly, don’t be fooled by Biden’s press releases calling himself the president-elect. Campaigns have tactics of winning — Trump’s tactic is to go through the courts while Biden’s is to act like he won. But it’s just that, a strategy. Until the federal General Services Administration makes a declaration of “ascertainment” that there is an “apparent successful candidate” there is no official president-elect. That means Biden cannot get classified briefings unless Trump gives the go-ahead, and he must fund his transition on his own.
Secondly, don’t believe most of what you see or read. Just like the inaccurate polls that served to suppress Trump voters, people generally say or write what they want to believe will happen. Here are the facts, with no opinion added.
Biden and Trump both have 217 electors that are uncontested. They need 270 to win. The Associated Press and several other networks have called states for Biden that would give him 290 votes, enough to win the election. Trump is using a variety of means to contest those votes.
Trump is basing his legal battle on three points:
- The vote count. Believe it or not, votes are still coming in by mail and election officials are still counting votes. The margin as it is now, though, is extremely tight, with about 50,000 separating the two in Pennsylvania with over 7 million cast, 15,000 in Arizona and 14,000 in Georgia.
This is a bit iffy for Trump, however, since most observers expect Biden to emerge with more votes than Trump in the swing states once the final count is in. His best bet is in the courts. But Georgia, where Biden is leading, has announced a manual recount of all ballots and the Trump campaign has requested recounts in other states.
- Fraud allegations. Most of the hyperbole and false narratives circling are about fraud. The Democratic party and mainstream media says there was no fraud. “Election Officials Nationwide Find No Fraud,” The New York Times headlines screamed in all-caps Wednesday morning. CNN claimed that “2020 was the best administered election that America has ever seen.”
But there’s no denying that fraud regularly occurs in elections, particularly in mail-in ballots — this year about 50 million people voted by mail. You could argue that there is no evidence of fraud on a scale that could overturn the election but there is certainly fraud. Even Ron Klain, Biden’s newly named chief of staff, said in a 2014 Twitter post that elections are “rigged.”
Trump will try to prove two things with fraud:
- That the fraud was on a level that made it systemic, or that the election itself was tainted. His team had gathered hundreds of affidavits that they witnessed fraud, but courts will do no more than simply toss the fraudulent ballots and validate the rest. To throw out an election result, Trump must prove that is was irreparably loaded with fraud.
This would require a trial, which would have to happen on an accelerated pace for it to make a difference. While the lawsuits target several states, all the issues are similar. He has filed 17 federal and state lawsuits.
2. Trump’s legal team will attempt to prove that since they weren’t allowed to watch the counting as required by law, the result cannot be legitimate.
What are the odds of this being successful? Pretty slim.
- The third leg of Trump’s attempt to stay in power is by targeting a Pennsylvania state supreme court ruling days before the election that all ballots coming in up to 10 days after the election must be counted. The state law is relatively simple — all ballots must come in by 8 p.m. on election day. Getting a federal court to reject the court’s ruling will go a long way in handing Trump the state of Pennsylvania and its 20 electors.
What are the chances? Of all Trump’s legal maneuvers, this stands the best chance. It is a straightforward case, with no trial needed, just a Supreme Court ruling whether the state court was in order when they extended the deadline.
What if no winner is chosen?
States get to certify winners and appoint electors to the college based on who lawmakers feel won the election. So if a state says that Biden won, they will send Democratic electors. If they feel Trump won, they will send GOP electors. Of the states being counted now, Georgia will be certifying its result on Nov. 20, followed by Pennsylvania and Michigan on Nov. 23, Arizona on Nov. 30, and Wisconsin and Nevada on December 1.