Trump's two-pronged strategy: appeal election results in courts of law and public opinion

On the legal front, the Trump campaign argues that the Constitution's Article I, Section 4 gives state legislatures — not state or municipal executive agencies or state courts — control of elections.

Updated: November 10, 2020 - 8:35am

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As the Trump campaign steps up its challenge to the validity of presidential election vote tallies in multiple states, it is fighting in two parallel arenas: courts of law and public opinion. 

Despite many media organizations declaring Democrat Joe Biden the winner, the election is still not over due to tabulation and canvassing continuing across the United States. 

On the legal front, the Trump campaign argues that the Constitution's Article I, Section 4 gives state legislatures — not state or municipal executive agencies or state courts — control of elections. They also argue that the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment does not let poll workers "cure" or "fix" certain ballots at the expense of others.

"When it comes to something like changing the date of the election or changing the date by which ballots can be received, that's clearly something within the purview of the legislature," Harmeet Dhillon, co-chair of Lawyers For Trump, told "Just the News AM" television program. "It is possible that minor judgment calls may occur at a local level — that a court may decide are or are not within the purview of non-legislative authority — but in these specific cases, I don't think those issues have actually been decided such as, can we now make up a cure requirement?"

On Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign filed suit against the Secretary of of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and select counties, alleging a violation of equal access, based on a lack of meaningful observation and transparency, particularly in Democrat-controlled counties. The Trump camp also alleged disparate treatment between Republican voters and Democrat voters.

"And we believe that a meaningful review of those ballots could discern that there were ballots that were illegally counted," Matthew Morgan, Trump 2020 general counsel said in a press conference Monday in Washington, D.C. "Our relief that we're seeking, at this point, is to enjoin the secretary of state from hurrying to certify the results before they were completely tabulated or canvassed, so that we can obtain that meaningful review and discern within those 680,000 ballots — at least, and there may be more throughout the state — whether or not there is disparate treatment for Republican voters and Democrat voters in the state, and whether Democrat voters were disproportionately allowed to cure, or fix their ballots, in some locations in the state than others."

At the same press conference, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the campaign had gathered affidavits showing "hundreds of instances" of nominally non-partisan election workers refusing to let GOP poll watchers challenge questionable ballots. McDaniel said poll workers "were wearing Biden t-shirts and applauding when our poll watchers were kicked out."

McDaniel also said a Detroit election worker submitted an affidavit to the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan saying that a supervisor required poll workers to backdate ballots to Nov. 2nd or 3rd to make sure they were counted.

"That's called illegal," McDaniel said.

On the parallel, public opinion front, Mark Serrano, a senior advisor to the Trump 2020 campaign said Monday evening on a Real America's Voice election special that the visual of seeing windows papered and cardboarded over by poll workers to avoid outside observation of ballot counting was a compelling visual understood by everyday Americans.

"The media, they are so far behind the American people, and they take the American people for suckers," Serrano said. "And shame on them. Shame on them for doing a coronation of Joe Biden, when the American people's voice, and their votes have not yet been determined and counted."

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, appearing with Morgan and McDaniel in her unofficial and personal capacity, said during the press conference that the public deserved to know that U.S. elections are run fairly and accurately. 

"We are fighting for the rights of all Americans who want to have faith and confidence, not only in this election, but in the many elections to come," she said. "Our position is clear. We want to protect the franchise of the American people. We want an honest, accurate, lawful count. We want maximum sunlight. We want maximum transparency. We want every legal vote to be counted, and we want every illegal vote to be discarded. Unlike our opponents, we have nothing to hide. The integrity of our election matters. The Constitution of the United States matters." 

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