President Trump’s campaign is going to war in the courts to defend his path to 270 electoral votes.
“We are on the ground fighting this battle every single day,” said Bill Stepien, the president’s campaign manager. “If we count all legally cast ballots, the president will win.”
Legal scholars say Mr. Trump’s lawsuits face an uphill battle and are a bit premature. The challenges will only matter if they can show enough illegalities to change the final results.
Trump campaign officials in Nevada claimed they had proof that about 10,000 nonresidents illegally cast ballots and that ballots had been submitted under the names of dead people.
“It is unacceptable in this country to have illegal votes counted and that is what is happening in the state of Nevada,” said Richard Grenell, the president’s former acting director of National Intelligence.
Nevada officials have defended the integrity of the state’s vote-counting.
Joe Gloria, registrar of voters for Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, said he was “not aware of any improper ballots that are being processed.”
In Georgia, Mr. Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit saying late absentee ballots were illegally being placed alongside on-time ballots instead of being set aside, as required by state law.
A superior court judge in Chatham County, which includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah, dismissed the lawsuit Thursday.
The Trump campaign also cried foul that its designated election observers in Nevada and Pennsylvania were barred from the ballot count, contrary to state law. In Nevada, his campaign reached an agreement, retracting a legal petition, to have access to observe ballots with Clark County officials.
Filing court challenges over nonsupervision in various states and counties could place the president’s lawyers in a position to legally challenge ballots.
They made a legal claim in Michigan about being locked out of observing tabulations, but a judge bucked that complaint Thursday.
Mr. Trump has been leading in Pennsylvania, a must-win state, since polls closed on Election Day. His margin has been dwindling, though, as more mail-in ballots are tabulated, most notably from the Philadelphia area.
It’s in that Democratic stronghold that the president’s legal team is claiming officials have prevented them from supervising counting. The Trump team went to court to get an order allowing their observers to stand within 6 feet to watch the count. Philadelphia Democrats appealed the order, requesting the Trump officials not observe the calculations.
“Why on earth would you care if people watch what you are doing unless you are doing something wrong?” said Justin Clark, a Trump campaign lawyer. “This tells the whole story.”
The president has volunteers and lawyers on the ground to spot fraud and irregularities in statistical data.
Irregularities spotted so far include areas such as Philadelphia delivering batches of ballots with zero votes for Mr. Trump and some areas reporting 200% more votes than registered voters, according to the campaign.
A lawsuit challenging the Pennsylvania election rules also hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court, where the Trump campaign joined a dispute challenging the state’s three-day extension for accepting mail-in ballots.
Pennsylvania Republicans filed the case against the state’s Democratic Party and secretary of state, saying they violated the law by extending the time for counting mail-in ballots to Nov. 6 at 5 p.m., despite the state Legislature setting the deadline for Election Day.
The lawsuit takes issue with smeared or illegible postmarked ballots being presumed to have been mailed before Nov. 3.
Mr. Trump filed a motion Wednesday to get involved in the suit, alleging Pennsylvania could decide the presidential election and the high court should settle the conflict over the ballot extension.
The justices ordered the state’s Democratic Party and state officials to respond to that request by the end of the day Thursday. The justices could discuss the request during their Friday conference, but it is doubtful the court will take the case before a winner is called in the state.
“Legally, you have the best case in Pennsylvania,” said Curt Levey, the president of the conservative Committee for Justice.
The legal conflict over the ballot deadline is returning to the Supreme Court after the justices refused to get involved in the matter last week. Newly minted Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in the high court’s denial of the Republican Party’s emergency request for the justices to immediately hear the case.
The justices had split 4-4 on the issue, leaving the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in place and allowing votes to be counted beyond Nov. 3.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a Bush-appointee, sided with the three Democratic-appointed justices to leave the extension intact.
Late-arriving ballots have been separated in the event the high court gets involved and rules against the state officials. Those votes then could be discounted.
Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law, does not expect the Supreme Court to get involved just yet in the Pennsylvania dispute. He also voiced skepticism about the campaign’s ability to prove the other various claims of irregularities and voter fraud.
“We have to wait and see if they have the goods,” he said.