A compilation of the misinformation, disinformation and many rejected legal challenges by the Trump campaign to try to overturn votes.
Joe Biden has been elected the next president of the United States, with a wide lead in both the electoral college and in the popular vote. President Trump has refused to concede, uttering baseless allegations of election fraud that have been amplified by Republican allies and conservative media outlets. His campaign has gone to court in five states, where Biden’s total margin is nearly 300,000, to challenge the counting of certain ballots or the certification of the vote.
Here are the facts about prominent efforts to question the fairness and integrity of the election, as well as updates on litigation.
Security of voting systems
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised … The November 3 election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process before finalizing the result. ”
— Joint statement of federal, state and local officials to counter election disinformation, Nov. 12
Claim: President Trump spread claims on Nov. 12 that voting software is “used in states where tens of thousands of votes were stolen from us and given to Biden.” He said in repeated tweets that Dominion Voting Systems are “horrible, inaccurate and anything but secure,” all of which were flagged by Twitter as disputed. He retweeted a baseless report that the voting machine system had “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide. ”
Fact: There is no evidence that any voting systems were compromised, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. “The systems and processes used by election officials to tabulate votes and certify official results are protected by various safeguards that help ensure the accuracy of election results,” the agency notes on its rumor control website that refutes disinformation and misinformation about the accuracy of election results. “These safeguards include measures that help ensure tabulation systems function as intended, protect against malicious software, and enable the identification and correction of any irregularities. ”
The president fired the agency’s director on Nov. 17 with a tweet that carried a now-commonplace disclaimer from Twitter: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.” Chris Krebs led successful efforts to help state and local election offices protect their systems and oversaw efforts to safeguard against foreign and domestic disinformation campaigns. He had refuted the president’s unfounded claims of ballot fraud. Earlier in the day, Krebs had tweeted that “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’ ”
In Pennsylvania, Trump won 12 of the 14 counties that use Dominion voting systems. Allegheny and Philadelphia counties, where Biden received more than a million votes, do not.
Ballot counting in Pa.
“In Philadelphia, officials are administering the election with the highest degree of transparency. There has been a livestream of the ballot-counting process available throughout the count, and all parties have canvass observers. ”
— Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, (D), Nov. 4
Claim: President Trump tweeted that he won Pennsylvania because “700,000 ballots were not allowed to be viewed in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.” He and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have continued to make the claim. In a court filing, the Trump campaign contended “Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties alone received and processed 682,479 mail-in and absentee ballots without review by the political parties and candidates. ”
Fact: Under Pennsylvania election law, each political party and candidate is entitled to have a representative “in the room” to watch ballots being counted, and state and local officials have said that all parties had access to the count. Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs has said that “at no time were canvassing operations conducted without observers having the opportunity to see the process and the counting.” Braced for conspiracy theories, Philadelphia authorities also live-streamed the count online. And in a separate lawsuit, a Trump campaign attorney had to acknowledge to a judge that Republicans had “a nonzero number of people in the room. ”
In its ongoing federal suit against the state and county boards of election, the campaign dropped its claim for legal action based on the assertion that observers were denied access to the count. In a revised suit filed on Nov. 15, the campaign again asked U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results. But a secondary request to block the certification of all votes where observer access was allegedly restricted was deleted in the amended suit. And the new version stripped out all the legal counts based on the allegation that ballots were counted in secret.
Trump’s pared-down lawsuit then focused on allegations that Republicans were illegally disadvantaged because some Democratic-leaning counties allowed voters to fix errors on their mail ballots. Counties have said this affected only a small number of votes.
In a blistering ruling on Nov. 21, Brann dismissed the suit, writing that the Trump campaign had used “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” stitched together “like Frankenstein’s Monster” in a bid to throw out millions of votes. A federal appeals court upheld that ruling on Nov. 27, writing: “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here. Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.”
Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) certified Biden’s victory on Nov. 24 after receiving official confirmation of the presidential vote totals from all 67 counties in the state. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) then signed a certificate selecting Biden’s slate of electors, which was submitted to the federal government.