President Donald Trump’s election fraud claims and lawsuits are unlikely to impact the outcome of the election, according to legal experts.
President-elect Joe Biden won swing states, where Trump held an initial lead, after officials counted mail-in ballots that largely casted votes for Biden.
Trump has filed lawsuits challenging the validity of mail-in ballots in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, some of which have been dismissed by judges.
Dwight Duncan, a professor at the University of Massachusetts School of Law, said some individuals have given written statements providing evidence of fraud, but Trump would need to prove a “widespread pattern” of fraud to change the election’s outcome.
“It’s perfectly appropriate as a legal matter to bring these claims to court, which is where we turn for the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Duncan said.
Bringing these claims to court is a good idea, Duncan said, because political bosses have historically run urban areas, such as Philadelphia, Detroit and Atlanta, which had late mail-in ballot results.
Ruth Greenwood, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, said she expects more lawsuits to be thrown out in court.
“If they’re able to identify [fraud], then of course we would want to investigate it,” Greenwood said. “But there’s no evidence of it, so I don’t imagine that these cases will go very far.”
Trump has not conceded the election, despite major news outlets declaring Biden the winner. Greenwood said cases claiming fraud and infringement of voters’ rights may go forward regardless of whether Trump concedes.
Daniel Farbman, an assistant professor at the Boston College Law School, said Trump’s lawyers’ interests lie more in bringing the election’s validity into question than changing its outcome.
“What we’ve seen are the questions being raised without the actual substance,” Farbman said. “It’s absolutely worth their time to cast doubt on the election.”
The Trump campaign can ask for recounts in states with close counts, such as Georgia and Arizona, according to Farbman.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed mail-in ballots to be counted up to three days after Election Day, as long as there is no reason to believe they were mailed after Nov. 3.
Duncan said the U.S. Supreme Court is unlikely to review this case, because of its experience with Bush v. Gore following the 2000 election, unless there’s evidence of fraud in multiple locations.
The Florida Supreme Court had ordered a ballot recount in 2000 after punch-card ballots were found marked incorrectly. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed this decision and stopped the recount, securing the presidency for George W. Bush.
Election fraud lawsuits could increase political polarization in the United States, Farbman said.
“The validity and trustworthiness of our electoral process are questioned,” Farbman said. “It’s going to have the effect of making some people think that something deeply unfair happened.”