WASHINGTON – With his chances of re-election threatened, US President Donald Trump has fired the first shots in a legal battle that could drag on for a long time.
In Michigan, one of three Midwestern states that are critical to determining the winner, Trump’s headquarters have filed a lawsuit demanding that the counting be stopped until it gains “substantial access” to the counting sites.
Thus, Trump’s headquarters are trying to block the count of large numbers of mail and absentee ballots that Trump believes are fake.
“We also demand to review the ballots that were opened and counted when we did not have substantial access,” said Trump chief of staff, Bill Stepin.
In Wisconsin, another state that may be key to determining the winner, the president’s campaign team has demanded a recount, citing irregularities in some districts. According to the initial results, the Democratic candidate Joe Biden there was ahead of Trump by about 20 thousand votes.
The move came after Trump made it clear that he would go directly to the Supreme Court to stop counting millions of mail and absentee ballots.
Legal scholars say Trump cannot directly appeal to the highest court for help in stopping the counting of votes in a legally held election.
The threat, however, suggests that Trump’s headquarters are gearing up for a protracted post-election legal battle in an electoral cycle that has seen the largest number of lawsuits in American history.
“Trump’s staff have used the same tactics relentlessly throughout the year, so I cannot imagine a reason that would induce them to stop until they have exhausted all possibilities,” said James Gardner, a law professor and election expert at the University of Buffalo.
The future will tell how long the looming legal battle will last.
While the Supreme Court may ultimately intervene in an election dispute, the initiators of the case must overcome several serious legal hurdles.
“There is no law that would allow arbitrary stopping of the counting of votes across the country or an individual state, so there is no legal basis for seeking such help,” said Kim Well, professor of law at the University of Baltimore.
It does not follow that Trump lacks a wide array of legal remedies that he can use to win the 270 electoral majority needed for re-election.
The recount that Trump is seeking in Wisconsin is not uncommon. Forty-seven states allow losing candidates to demand recounts. Of the remaining states that have not yet summed up the election results, only Arizona does not allow this.
However, recounts rarely change the voting results. But experts point out that if Trump does not achieve a favorable outcome with a recount, he may challenge the election results.