The Legality of the 2020 Election

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By Giulia Schaub, Editor-in-Chief

Despite top election officials’ claims that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history, [1] ” its results have been disputed since before the counting of the votes was even completed, and have continued to be disputed in the following weeks. [2] President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the elections results have dominated the majority of headlines; however, candidates of elections for congressional, state, and local offices are also demanding re-evaluation of votes in some form. [3] At the time this article is published, there were 75 lawsuits filed across in eleven states and the District of Columbia, and 16 of those lawsuits had already concluded. [4]

At the center of nearly every legal dispute over this election is the increased number of mail-in ballots each state saw this year, likely due at least in part to health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. [5] Many voters choose to vote by mail to avoid waiting in long lines or overcrowded spacing on Election Day and, some politicians and officials claim that their popularity made voter fraud that much more rampant. [6] Although no direct evidence of mail-in voting fraud has been detected in any jurisdiction as of yet, some individuals challenged counting votes that arrived via mail after November 3. [7]

The President’s legal team has brought suit in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada alleging the unconstitutionality of mail-in votes, issues with ballot scanning machines, and apparent lack of poll watchers, to name a just few of the counts in these complaints. [8] Here in Pennsylvania, where the Trump campaign has filed more lawsuits than in any other state, at the time of this article three lawsuits are still active, twelve  were dismissed or denied, three were withdrawn, and one has concluded successfully for the campaign. [9] Led by the President’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, the Trump legal team has recently received five rejections from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; the most recent involving a technical issue that, if successful, would have invalidated 8,329 votes. [10] However, on November 23, 2020, the Court held that the failure “to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, d[id] not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters.” [11]  In the President’s only current victory, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court found that, where a mail-in ballot lacked sufficient identification, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar did not have the authority to grant voters a three-day deadline extension to provide identification, as she had done here. [12] This ruling is estimated to have affected fewer than 100 votes statewide. [13]

Despite the President’s ineffective efforts to curb mail-in voting thus far, other politicians have brought their own complaints in Pennsylvania courts. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, and Sean Parnell, who ran against Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, filed suit in Commonwealth Court claiming that Act 77, which expanded absentee and mail-in voting, is unconstitutional, and any changes to absentee voting should have been made via constitutional amendment. [14] A ruling in favor of Kelly and Parnell would result in 2.6 million votes being invalidated. [15] The Commonwealth Court and the PA Supreme Court denied the claim, before Kelly and Parnell petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately rejected the claim on December 8. [16]

All 50 states voted to certify their election results on December 9, [17] and the Electoral College casted their vote on December 15. [18] The final vote will be counted and certified on January 6, 2021, which will most likely result in a victory for Vice President Joe Biden. [19] However, despite the fact his time to overturn the election results is rapidly running out, President Trump and his campaign are attempting a last-ditch effort to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn several decisions by the PA Supreme Court that the Campaign is claiming inappropriately changed election rules. [20] Even so, if the Pennsylvanian votes were to be overturned and the commonwealth’s electoral votes would be given to President Trump, Vice President Biden would still have 276 electoral votes and President Trump would have 252; the winner must maintain a majority of 270. [21]




[4] Id.



[7] Id.


[9] Id.


[11] Id.


[13] Id.


[15] Id.






[21] Id.

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