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Factbox: US presidential election moves to the courts

  • Published at 08:50 am November 5th, 2020
US Supreme Court
A Supreme Court filled with conservatives could spell dark days ahead REUTERS

Below is a list of the cases that will play out in the coming days and possibly weeks

With the US presidential election between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden too close to call, Trump turned to the courts on Wednesday to try to invalidate votes in Pennsylvania and block Michigan officials from counting ballots.

Below is a list of the cases that will play out in the coming days and possibly weeks.

‘Pennsylvania Court Battles’

Republican officials on Tuesday sued election officials in Montgomery County, which borders Philadelphia, accusing them of illegally counting mail-in ballots early and giving voters who submitted defective ballots a chance to re-vote.

At a hearing on Wednesday, US District Judge Timothy Savage in Philadelphia appeared skeptical of their allegations and how the integrity of the election might be affected.

In a separate lawsuit, the Trump campaign asked a judge to halt ballot counting in Pennsylvania, claiming that Republicans had been unlawfully denied access to observe the process.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Pennsylvania have asked the US Supreme Court to review a decision from the state’s highest court that allowed election officials to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day that arrived through Friday.

On Wednesday, Trump’s campaign filed a motion to intervene in the case.

US Supreme Court justices said last week there was not enough time to decide the merits of the case before Election Day but indicated they might revisit it afterwards.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by fellow conservatives Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said in a written opinion that there is a “strong likelihood” the Pennsylvania court’s decision violated the US Constitution.

Pennsylvania election officials said they will segregate properly postmarked ballots that arrived after Election Day.

With about 83% of the vote counted, Trump led Biden in Pennsylvania with 52% of the vote to 46%, according to Edison Research.

‘Georgia Ballot Fight’    

The Trump campaign on Wednesday evening filed a lawsuit in state court in Chatham County, Georgia. Unlike the Pennsylvania and Michigan actions, that lawsuit is not asking a judge to halt ballot counting. 

Instead, the campaign said it received information that late-arriving ballots were improperly mingled with valid ballots, and asked a judge to enter an order making sure late-arriving ballots were separated so they would not be counted.


Also read: Explainer: What might happen if US election result is disputed?


‘Michigan Ballot Counting Fighting’   

Trump’s campaign said on Wednesday it had filed a lawsuit in Michigan to stop state officials from counting ballots.

The campaign said the case in the Michigan Court of Claims seeks to halt counting until it has an election inspector at each absentee voter counting board. The campaign also wanted to review ballots which were opened and counted before an inspector from its campaign was present.

Biden held a razor-thin margin in the state with 94% of the expected vote in, according to Edison Research.

‘US  Postal Service Litigation’   

A US judge on Wednesday said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy must answer questions about why the US Postal Service failed to complete a court-ordered sweep for undelivered ballots in about a dozen states before a Tuesday afternoon deadline.

A man carries letters into a United States Postal Service (USPS) post office in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, US on August 21, 2020. Reuters

US District Judge Emmet Sullivan is overseeing a lawsuit by Vote Forward, the NAACP, and Latino community advocates who have been demanding the postal service deliver mail-in ballots in time to be counted in the election.

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