Trump loses ballot challenge bids as Biden lead grows in presidential election


U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona U.S., September 14, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Donald Trump’s already long-shot efforts to reverse an apparent win for President-elect Joe Biden by challenging votes in courts suffered three big setbacks in Arizona, Michigan and Pennylvania on Friday.

But Trump still refused to concede the race, which he has falsely claimed to have won, even as experts say he has little if any hope left of invalidating enough Biden votes — in multiple states — to surpass the former Democratic vice president in the Electoral College tally.

In Arizona on Friday, Trump’s campaign dropped a legal challenge of a number of ballots in Maricopa County, saying Biden’s overall lead in the state is too large for the disputed ballots to make a difference.

The move came a day after NBC News and other media outlets projected that Biden will win the state’s popular vote.

In Michigan, where Biden last week was projected as the winner, a judge declined a request by Trump backers to block the certification of election results in Detroit.

And in Pennsylvania, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she has determined not to order a recount and a recanvass of the election return in 67 counties.

For a recount to be ordered, Trump would have to be losing by less than .5% of the votes cast.

But Biden’s lead over Trump was 49.8% to Trump’s 48.9%, or more than 60,000 votes, as of Friday afternoon in the Keystone State, which has 20 Electoral votes.

Later Friday, a judge in Montgomery County, Pa., rejected a request from Trump’s campaign to halt the counting of nearly 600 ballots there, which the campaign claimed were missing their addressess under a signature on the outer envelope.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Haaz in his ruling said that state law does not require a voter to provide an addres on the envelope.

In the Michigan case, the judge rejected allegations by two poll challengers who claimed to have seen irregularities that allowed invalid ballots to be counted. 

Timothy Kenny, chief judge of Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit, said those people “did not have a full understanding” of the vote counting process and their “interpretation of events is incorrect and not credible.”

Biden is ahead of Trump by more than 145,000 votes in Michigan.

In its filing Friday in Maricopa County court, where Trump’s campaign had claimed that numerous voters had their ballots invalidated, the campaign said that “the tabulation of votes statewide,” which showed Biden leading by nearly 11,000 votes, has rendered unncessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors.”

Arizona has 11 votes in the Electoral College. NBC last week had projected that Biden will win Michigan, which has 16 electoral votes.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CNBC, in response to the filing in Arizona, “All parties acknowledge that in-person voters, who were likely predominately Trump voters, were disenfranchised by having their votes kicked out by the machines in Maricopa County, so for Democrats to celebrate that fact is shameful.”

“We continue to explore President Trump’s options in Arizona,” Murtaugh said.

But Biden’s campaign said, “The Trump campaign’s lawsuit was frivolous and their motion to withdraw any claims of relief related to the presidential campaign confirms that this was nothing more than a waste of time.”

“President-Elect Joe Biden won Arizona, and now it’s time to unite the country and move forward,” his campaign said.

The Arizona complaint, which was filed Saturday in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleged that numerous voters filing ballots in person on Election Day had been tricked into having their votes disqualified by the electronic tabulation machines.

The Trump campaign had originally argued if the disqualified ballots were added to the vote tally, it “will prove determinative of the outcome of the election for President of the United States in Arizona and/or other contested offices in Maricopa County.”

“Numerous voters were alerted by these devices to a facial irregularity in their ballot … but were induced by poll workers to override the tabulator’s rejection of the ballot in the good faith belief that their vote would be duly registered and tabulated,” the complaint alleged.

“In actuality, overriding the electronic tabulator’s alert automatically disqualifies the putative ‘overvotes’ without additional review or adjudication.”

In its filing Friday, the campaign said that while the issue of the ballots affecting Trump’s electoral chances is moot because of the statewide lead for Biden, it also said that two down-ballot races, for the Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, and for a state Senate seat, “remain at issue” in the case.

But during a status conference in the case later Friday afternoon, a lawyer for Trump’s campaign reportedly said that the dispute over how those ballots could affect those other races appears to be moot as well because of the current vote tallies in the contests.

Biden was projected to win the presidential race as of last Saturday.

NBC News as of Friday projected that he now has 306 Electoral College votes, 36 more than he needs to clinch a White House win.



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