UNITED STATES NEWS

Election Day is Nov. 8, but legal challenges already begin

Oct 27, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: 10:03 pm
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)...
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Election Day is 12 days away. But in courtrooms across the country, efforts to sow doubt over the outcome have already begun.

More than 100 lawsuits have been filed this year around the Nov. 8 elections. The legal challenges, largely by Republicans, target rules for mail-in voting, early voting, voter access, voting machines, voting registration, the counting of mismarked absentee ballots and access for partisan poll watchers.

The cases likely preview a potentially contentious post-election period and the strategy stems partly from the failure of Donald Trump and his allies to prevail in overturning the free and fair results of the 2020 presidential election that he lost to Joe Biden.

That was an ad hoc response fronted by a collection of increasingly ill-prepared lawyers that included Rudy Giuliani. The current effort, however, is more formalized, well-funded and well-organized and is run by the Republican National Committee and other legal allies with strong credentials. Party officials say they are preparing for recounts, contested elections and more litigation. Thousands of volunteers are ready to challenge ballots and search for evidence of malfeasance.

“We’re now at the point where charges of fraud and suppression are baked into the turnout models for each party,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, co-chair of the Election Official Legal Defense Network and former counsel to the George W. Bush campaign and other Republican candidates. “Republicans charge fraud. Democrats charge suppression. Each side amplifies its position with massive and costly amounts of litigation and messaging.”

The RNC said it has a multimillion-dollar “election integrity” team. It has hired 37 lawyers in key states, held more than 5,000 training sessions to teach volunteers to look for voter fraud — which is rare and isolated — and filed 73 suits in 20 states. Other Trump-allied legal teams, including America First Legal, run by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, are involved.

“We built an unprecedented election integrity ground game to ensure that November’s midterm elections are free, fair and transparent,” the RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, said last month.

The Democrats’ legal effort focuses on making voting easier and helping those denied a chance to vote. A team led by lawyer Marc Elias and his firm is litigating roughly 40 cases in 19 states, though many are interventions in Republican-led suits.

Elias said he is bracing for a deluge of challenges to election results. Some Republican candidates have already said they will not accept a loss or have planted doubt on the election process despite no evidence of fraud.

“The problem with the Republican Party right now is that conceding you lost an election is the only thing that will hurt you,” Elias said. “Contesting an election that is clearly lost is now where all the incentive structure is, and that is incredibly corrosive for democracy.”

Almost every election begets legal challenges. But much of that generally comes after Election Day.

In 2020, pro-Trump lawyers filed roughly 60 suits and asked judges to set aside votes. Those suits were roundly rejected. Trump’s own leadership found the election was fair, and state election officials saw no widespread evidence of fraud. Biden earned 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the same margin as Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, when he called it a “landslide.”

At that time, the Republican establishment had not adopted Trump’s lies about the election. Since then, the falsehoods have taken root within the GOP.

Ginsberg said unsubstantiated charges that elections were fraudulent or rigged or unreliable have become the mantra for a Republican to win a contested 2022 primary in most states.

“That can only harm public faith in elections, something for which Republicans will eventually pay a price,” he said.

For three decades, the RNC was under a consent decree that prohibited it from challenging voters’ qualifications and targeting alleged fraud. That legal agreement, which ended in 2019, arose from a Democratic National Committee suit that argued Republicans sought to dissuade Black Americans from voting by posting armed, off-duty law enforcement officers at certain polling sites and sending targeted mailings warning about penalties for violating election laws.

In 2020, Republican poll watchers, who have no direct role in the elections and cannot interfere in the electoral process apart from watching and reporting issues, were the basis of many of the suits filed by Trump allies. But when pressed by judges for evidence backing partisan claims of suspicious behavior by election workers, the litigation faltered.

Election workers have increasingly been subjected to abuse and threats of violence. Voter intimidation cases are on the rise, and there is growing concern among election officials and law enforcement about overly aggressive poll watchers or people pretending to be poll watchers intimidating voters.

Last week the RNC won a legal challenge against Michigan’s secretary of state, Democrat Jocelyn Benson, over rules about how poll challengers can operate.

“Jocelyn Benson not only disregarded Michigan election law in issuing this guidance, she also violated the rights of political parties and poll challengers to fully ensure transparency and promote confidence that Michigan elections are run fairly and lawfully,” McDaniel said in a statement.

The RNC has won legal challenges in Nevada and Arizona over the appointment of poll workers and in Wisconsin on “ballot curing” — a process whereby voters can fix problems with their ballots so they can be counted — and drop boxes. Litigation in Pennsylvania involved absentee ballots dating and whether outside parties should be allowed to examine voting machines.

Democratic-led groups have initiated about 35 suits that focus largely on making voting easier. Just this week, litigation was filed on behalf of Voto Latino and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans to stop intimidation over using drop boxes in Arizona. The ACLU of Pennsylvania sent a letter to Allegheny County officials on mail-in ballot concerns.

Heading into 2020, the U.S. focused on the possibility of foreign threats, from Russia or possibly China, to the integrity of the election, such as by manipulating vote tabulations. Election officials and Trump’s own agencies said it was the most secure election ever. It was Trump and his supporters who nurtured conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

U.S. officials are again sounding the alarm that Russia is working to amplify doubts over the integrity of the elections.

This week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “No outside cyber activity has ever prevented a registered voter from casting a ballot; compromised the integrity of any ballot cast; or affected the accuracy of voter registration information.”

She said the government would “monitor any threats to our elections if they arise and work as a cohesive, coherent interagency to get relevant information to the election officials and workers on the ground.”

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

United States News

This photo shows Charles Graves dressed as Santa Claus in Austin, Texas on on Sept. 3, 2022. Graves...
Associated Press

Santa’s back in town with inflation, inclusion on his mind

NEW YORK (AP) — Don’t look for plastic partitions or faraway benches when visiting Santa Claus this year. The jolly old elf is back, pre-pandemic style, and he’s got some pressing issues on his mind. Santa booker HireSanta.com has logged a 30% increase in demand this Christmas season over last year, after losing about 15% […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and wife Gisele arrive to vote in Braddock, Pa, Tuesday...
Associated Press

Pennsylvania campaign wildcard Fetterman turns to governing

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — When John Fetterman goes to Washington in January as one of the Senate’s new members, he’ll bring along an irreverent style from Pennsylvania that extends from his own personal dress code — super casual — to hanging marijuana flags outside his current office in the state Capitol. Pennsylvania’s unique lieutenant governor, […]
9 hours ago
People shop for bottled water after a boil water notice was issued for the entire city of Houston o...
Associated Press

Water boil order issued for more than 2 million in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) — More than 2 million people in the Houston area were under a boil order notice Monday after a power outage caused low pressure at a water purification plant, officials said. The order — which means water must be boiled before it’s used for cooking, bathing or drinking — also prompted schools in […]
9 hours ago
Associated Press

Mother charged with murder in stabbings of her 2 boys in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — A mother has been charged with murder in the stabbings of two small children in a Bronx apartment, police said Monday. Dimone Fleming, 22, is accused of killing 11-month-old Octavius Fleming-Canada and 3-year-old Dashawn Fleming, who were found with multiple stab wounds on Saturday in the apartment in the Mount Hope […]
9 hours ago
FILE - This Oct. 3, 2016, photo, provided by the Martin County Sheriff's Office, shows Austin Harro...
Associated Press

Judge to decide fate of man accused in face-biting attack

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A trial for a former college student who randomly killed a Florida couple in their garage six years ago and then chewed on one victim’s face was set to begin Monday. Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer will decide whether Austin Harrouff, 25, goes to prison for the rest of his life, […]
9 hours ago
This image provided by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory shows a view from a research camera on...
Associated Press

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa starts to erupt, sending ash nearby

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has started to erupt for the first time in nearly four decades, prompting volcanic ash and debris to fall nearby, authorities said Monday. The eruption began late Sunday night in the summit caldera of the volcano on the Big Island, the U.S. Geological Survey […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Election Day is Nov. 8, but legal challenges already begin