The main-stream media has repeated almost daily that Donald Trump and several important MAGA-friendly organizations continue to support the so-called “big lie,” namely, that the 2020 election was stolen. They also repeat almost daily that this conclusion about that election is totally bogus since “no evidence” of substantial election fraud was ever uncovered in the 65+ lawsuits filed after the election; Trump and his supporters lost them all. The election was stolen? What nonsense. It’s all “delusional thinking” and irrational conspiracy theory. Case closed.
Well not quite.
The American Bar Association (ABA) has published a list of the legal filings that challenged the results of the 2020 election and a summary of the court findings in each case. It makes for very interesting reading.
The most important lesson to be drawn from these case summaries is that the bulk of them have (almost) nothing to do with the alleged evidence concerning voter and election fraud. And the reason for this is reasonably clear. Fraud is itself an extremely difficult legal matter to litigate; along with any relevant empirical evidence, the legal concepts of due diligence and “intent” would have to be fully explored. Moreover, any determination of election and/or voter fraud would have required (at a very minimum) a so-called “evidentiary hearing” where the court would take testimony under oath from expert witnesses; accept and evaluate properly supported affidavits; evaluate any relevant election data analysis, and explore the murky issue of “intent” (by elected officials and others) at some length. To my knowledge, none of this process or analysis occurred in any systematic manner in any of the 65 post-2020 election challenge cases.
So what were these cases really about? My reading of the summaries convinces me that the courts were concerned almost exclusively with what are termed “procedural issues” and not with the actual substance of what would constitute election fraud. For example, the so-called issue of “standing” is procedural. Does a particular plaintiff have the legal right to bring this action? If the answer is “no” then the entire case is summarily dismissed. (This happened in several of the challenge cases). This, of course, is a perfectly appropriate ruling but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of substantial fraud one way or the other.
In another one of the 65 cases, the judge actually asked why the plaintiff could not have filed suit before the election regarding some alleged problem in the way the voting process was likely to be administered. “Too late now” the judge said, in effect. Case dismissed. One judge actually asserted that any complaints about the legitimate certification of the election (in Georgia) were all now “moot” since “the election results… had already been certified.” But the issue of “certification legitimacy” was the very concept that the plaintiffs were challenging! Unbelievable.
Several of the cases concerned the constitutionality of mail-in ballots (no problem said the court) the lateness of counting mail-in ballots (no problem) the absence of observers during voting and tabulating (no problem) the placement and number of “drop boxes (no problem) and dozens of other disputed “administrative” decisions and procedures that the court found to be, you guessed it, no problem to legitimizing certification. On procedural issues and the law, the courts simply deferred to the states and their election boards every time.
The courts almost unanimously held the view that the state election apparatus followed the spirit (if not the exact letter) of the law and that they (the courts) were not about to “set aside the popular vote” simply because, as in Georgia, thousands of votes may have been cast by non-residents. But the real substantive question was: Were they? Too late for that question the court opined; the results have already been certified. Yikes.
So was the election stolen? Let’s single out a particularly egregious issue which was debated in several of the challenge cases: the problems associated with signature verification of mail-in ballots. Now, even assuming that there were some legitimate problems here, were they substantial enough either to constitute fraud or to actually swing the election in key battleground states? Impossible to know from reading the case summaries. What we do know is that the courts took surprisingly little interest in actually exploring any of these substantive issues in any depth, Which means, unfortunately, that the so-called integrity of the most “free and fair” election in U.S. history is still unresolved.