President Trump’s team produced reams of intriguing evidence of misconduct at the polls and potentially illegal voting last week, but he must clear an exceedingly high bar to overturn the projected victory of Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden.
The evidence includes affidavits by poll workers, post office employees and certified election observers who witnessed suspicious and even illegal conduct in the handling and tabulation of ballots in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
“By the time we are finished, we will be able to show there was a pattern of conduct by the Democrat Party,” former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is leading the Trump legal assault, told The Washington Times.
He said mischief occurred while Republican poll observers were prevented from watching the vote count in Democratic-run cities such as Phoenix, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Atlanta.
“They put Republicans in cages! That had to come from some genius in Washington,” he said.
The evidence calls into question the integrity of the election process, but the total number of votes in dispute across the states remains a mystery and Mr. Biden is leading by margins at least in the tens of thousands in every state the Trump team is disputing.
Mr. Giuliani said his team has affidavits supporting the claim that at a minimum 400,000 to 500,000 illegal votes were cast in Michigan.
Still, it would take a huge reversal of fortune for Mr. Trump to prevail in Michigan, where he trails by more than 146,000 votes, or Pennsylvania, where he is running more than a 47,000-vote deficit.
“The lawsuits generally do not have a chance of overcoming margins of tens of thousands of votes. Isolated instances of fraud, even if true, would not have that kind of effect,” said University of Pennsylvania Law School professor Kermit Roosevelt, a scholar of constitutional law.
Some of the eyewitness accounts are startling.
• Jessy Jacobs, an employee of the Detroit Election Department, said in a sworn deposition that city officials ordered her to backdate mail-in ballots arriving after Nov. 3 so they would be counted.
She estimated that she alone backdated tens of thousands of mail-in ballots.
Ms. Jacobs said city election workers would fill out ballots at the counting center and falsify identities when the voter was not on the rolls.
• In Chester County, outside Philadelphia, a poll watcher reported that an election worker altered “overvoted” ballots — ballots marked for more than one presidential candidate — by changing votes that had been marked for Mr. Trump to another candidate.
• A Nevada Election Department employee, in a signed declaration, claimed witnessing a Biden-Harris van deliver ballots to a Las Vegas counting center and co-workers filling out ballots in the parking lot.
A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday sought to prevent Michigan from certifying the election results because of widespread abuses, including disparate treatment of Republican poll watchers.
The filing includes more than 100 affidavits detailing election irregularities in Wayne County, where Detroit is located. The irregularities include reports of multiple ballots being cast by individuals and ballots being repeatedly run through vote-counting machines.
“It was pervasive,” said Thor Hearne, counsel to the campaign.
They also asked the court to delay certifying results until Michigan shows that all ballots were cast legally and inspects software from Dominion Voting System that allegedly switched 6,000 Republican votes to Democratic votes in Antrim County.
The same software was used in roughly 50 other counties in the state. Michigan officials blamed human error rather than a software glitch.
Mr. Trump vowed to fight on and, early in the disputed ballot count, declared himself the winner.
He is following a path blazed by Democrat Stacey Abrams, who still has not conceded her loss in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, which she insists was stolen through voter suppression. Ms. Abrams waited 10 days to acknowledge, if not her loss, that Republican Brian Kemp would be governor.
“As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede,” she said. “But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.”
Mr. Trump will reach that 10-day mark Friday.
At this juncture, the most likely path to victory for Mr. Trump is through Pennsylvania. The margin there is relatively slim and a slew of disputes, including a bid for a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the state’s extended deadline for mail-in ballots, puts plenty of votes into play.
After reversing Mr. Biden’s projected win in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump would need to do the same in Arizona or Nevada and then come out on top in too-close-to-call races in North Carolina and Georgia.
A massive volume of mail-in ballots is in question in Pennsylvania, including 682,479 votes that were counted without inspection by the candidates’ designated observers, as required by law, according to a Trump campaign lawsuit.
Seeking a court order to prevent certification of the Pennsylvania results, the Trump campaign challenged all of the state’s nearly 2.65 million mail-in ballots because the process “lacked all of the hallmarks of transparency and verifiability that were present for in-person voters.”
Trump campaign attorney Matt Morgan said the goal is to get judges to invalidate enough votes to bring Mr. Trump within 0.5 percentage points of Mr. Biden in the final tally, which would trigger an automatic recount under Pennsylvania law.