Trump Expands Legal Fight Over Vote Counts in Close States

President Donald Trump’s campaign said it’s adding a lawsuit in Nevada to a flurry of legal challenges to vote counts in battleground states as the race has tilted toward Democrat Joe Biden.

The Trump campaign early Thursday said its Nevada suit would target around 10,000 ballots it claims were cast illegally by voters who live outside the state. On Wednesday, the campaign filed lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, challenging various aspects of ballot counts. Biden won Michigan on Wednesday and is slightly ahead in Nevada.

The president currently leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia, but the margins have narrowed as more votes are counted.

Democrats have called the lawsuits baseless efforts to muddy the election as the president and his top aides claim the presidency is being stolen. Throughout the campaign, Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence that the increased use of mail-in ballots will lead to widespread voter fraud and suggested the election would have to be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“He is laying the foundation to question the legitimacy of the democratic process — a quest in which he will ultimately fail,” said Vanita Gupta, who led the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration. She said there was “no basis in reality” for Trump’s claims of fraud.

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The Nevada suit will be announced in Las Vegas at a press conference hosted by former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, who joined the chorus of high-profile former GOP officials accusing Democrats in a series of tweets of fixing the election. At a press conference in Philadelphia on Wednesday, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, suggested another lawsuit could be filed in Wisconsin.

Several of the suits allege the Trump campaign was not given sufficient access to monitor the ballot counts that they claim may be rife with fraud. On Thursday, a Pennsylvania appellate court reversed the dismissal of an earlier suit filed by Republicans seeking greater access to similarly observe canvassing — the process of opening envelopes and preparing ballots for counting.

In Georgia’s Chatham County, which includes the Democratic-leaning city of Savannah, the Trump campaign filed asuit Wednesday asking for a court order forcing election officials to separate invalid late-arriving ballots. The campaign claimed a Republican poll observer saw late-arriving ballots being illegally added to a stack of on-time absentee ballots.

The campaign on Wednesday also alleged Pennsylvania’s top election official improperly reset the deadline for mail-in voters to provide missing proof of identification. The Trump team additionally tried to revive a suit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging Pennsylvania’s Friday deadline for accepting mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day. Another Republicansuit in the Keystone State accused election officials of illegally allowing voters to “cure” errors in mail-in ballots by using provisional ballots.

Read More: Trump Team Pursues Contradictory Strategy as U.S. Counts Votes

It will be almost impossible for Trump to win the election if he does not carry Pennsylvania. Biden can win without the state if he manages to hold onto his leads in Arizona and Nevada.

In the Michigan case, top election officials are accused of violating state law by not allowing campaign staff to look at video footage of all the ballot drop boxes that were used to make sure no fraud took place. The Trump campaign wants the state to segregate ballots that were dropped off in such boxes while the fight carries on in court.

The Biden team has taken steps to prepare itself for Trump’s legal onslaught. Campaign Manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement Wednesday that the campaign aims to put in place the “most comprehensive legal effort ever assembled” after Trump “threatened to go to court to prevent the proper tabulation of votes.”

Wendy Weiser, who heads a democracy program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice and isn’t involved in the election, expressed skepticism about the Trump team’s legal arguments.

“It’s very clear both by the way they’re litigating it and they way they’re talking about it that these lawsuits are part of a public relations strategy more than they are part of a legal strategy,” she said. “It’s unfortunate they’re trying to use the courts this way.”

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