Election 2020: Lawsuits filed, recounts requested by Trump campaign — here’s where they stand

President Donald Trump's campaign has filed a barrage of lawsuits amid President-elect Joe Biden's win — leveling, without proof, accusations of large-scale voter fraud in states that broke for Biden.

Experts said the effort faced long odds given the Electoral College tally and recent court rulings that found no evidence of widespread vote fraud. Across the country, election officials from both parties say the 2020 election unfolded smoothly and there has been no conspiracy.

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In fact, election experts said the large increase in advance voting — 107 million people voting early in person and by mail — helped take pressure off Election Day operations. There were also no incidents of violence at the polls or voter intimidation.

“Nothing that I’ve seen regarding the election raises a legal issue that could succeed. There is just is nothing there,” Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush in the 2000 recount in Florida that ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court, told the Associated Press.

“When these kind of lawsuits are filed it just breeds contempt for the whole legal system,” he added.

Biden was projected by the Associated Press and FOX News as the 46th president of the United States on Nov. 7 after claiming the key battleground state of Pennsylvania, pushing him well past the needed 270 Electoral College votes to win the White House.

Biden has claimed a total of 306 votes to Trump’s 232, according to projections by FOX News and the AP.

Biden’s transition process as president-elect had been stalled amid Trump’s resistance to acknowledging the outcome of the race. But on Nov. 23, the federal government officially recognized Biden as the “apparent winner” of the election. The go-ahead by the General Services Administration formally starts the transition of power.

Still, Trump has refused to concede his loss to Biden, and argued without evidence that the results will be overturned.

Former campaign adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski (L) and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speak to the media about a court order giving President Trump's campaign access to observe vote counting operations on Nov. 5,

Studies have repeatedly shown that voter fraud is exceptionally rare, and when it does happen, people are generally caught and prosecuted and it does not change the outcome of the election. Typically, it involves someone wanting to honor the wishes of a loved one who recently died and either knowingly or not commits a crime by filling out that ballot.

Long before a single ballot was cast in the 2020 presidential election, Trump raised, without evidence, questions about the integrity of the election and railed against mail voting despite a long history of mail ballots being used successfully in the country. At one point, he falsely claimed the only way he could lose was if the election were rigged.

Some states that expanded mail-in voting to make it safer to cast a ballot during the virus outbreak lean Republican and voted for Trump — Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana. He has raised no concerns about the results there.

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Prior to Election Day, there were also hundreds of lawsuits filed by both sides, dealing with changes to how the election was going to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of them were still live on Nov. 3, but most were sorted out.

Here is a look at the lawsuits that have been filed and recounts that have been requested related to the 2020 presidential race since Election Day:

Trump lawsuits in Michigan

On Nov. 24, Michigan election officials certified Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the state. The Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 vote with one GOP abstention. 

Under state law, Biden claims all 16 electoral votes. Biden won by 2.8 percentage points — a larger margin than in other states where Trump is contesting the results like Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Trump and his lawyers filed a federal lawsuit on Nov. 11 in Michigan against Wayne County and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, claiming irregularities, incompetence, and unlawful vote counting. In Wayne County, Biden received more than 330,000 votes over Trump.

Trump had wanted the state to hold off on certifying the election until it was verified that the votes were cast legally.

The Wayne County board of canvassers moved to certify the vote on Nov. 17 after a contentious vote. GOP canvassers first blocked the certification for hours before reversing the move.

The Trump campaign dropped its case Nov. 19, citing statements from the Republican Wayne County canvassers who initially blocked certification of election results before approving them. The two canvassers now say they want to change their position again, but officials say there’s no way for them to rescind their vote.

Another lawsuit filed last week on behalf of two poll challengers asked a court to halt the certification of election results until an independent audit is completed to “ensure the accuracy and integrity of the election.” But the lawyers for the two poll challengers then abruptly withdrew the suit with no explanation.

The day after Election Day, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit Nov. 4 to halt Michigan’s vote count, claiming it did not have proper access to observing the opening of absentee ballots — which was later dismissed. The Associated Press called Michigan for Biden on the same day.

The suit was filed in the Michigan Court of Claims. The next day, Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled against the campaign after questioning Trump’s attorneys over the evidence that she called hearsay.

Poll watchers from both sides were plentiful at one major polling place in question, the TCF Center in Detroit, according to the Associated Press.

Mark Brewer, a former state Democratic Party chairman who was observing the Detroit vote counting as a volunteer lawyer, said he had been at the TCF Center all day on Nov. 4 and had talked with others who had been there the past couple of days. He said Republicans had not been denied access.

“This is the best absentee ballot counting operation that Detroit has ever had. They are counting ballots very efficiently, despite the obstructing tactics of the Republicans,” Brewer said.

Another lawsuit in Michigan also sought to halt the certification of election results in Detroit, a Democratic stronghold, and the surrounding Wayne County. But on Nov. 6, Judge Timothy Kenny denied the motion for injunctive relief — ruling that the plaintiffs had made “only a claim but have offered no evidence to support their assertions.”

On Nov. 13, Kenny dismissed the lawsuit, saying there were "no sinister fraudulent activities" at the TCF Center on the day ballots were counted.

Separately on Nov. 12, the Trump campaign filed a wide-ranging lawsuit challenging the counting of votes in Wayne County. But according to reports, it was “misfiled” at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., which does not have jurisdiction, and was intended for Western Michigan's U.S. District Court. It was later dismissed by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

RELATED: Trump campaign pulls Michigan lawsuit after Wayne County certifies votes

Trump lawsuits in Nevada

The Associated Press and FOX News on Nov. 7 declared Biden the winner of Nevada, and the Nevada Supreme Court made Biden’s win in the state official on Nov. 24, approving the state's final canvass of the election.

The unanimous action by the seven nonpartisan justices sends to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak results that will deliver six electoral votes to Biden. The former vice president won Nevada by 33,596 votes, according to results approved by elected officials in Nevada’s 17 counties — including Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, and Washoe County, which includes Reno.

Biden got 50.06% of the vote to Trump’s 47.67%.

Prior to the state’s vote certification, a Trump campaign attorney declared on Nov. 17 that the Republican president won in Nevada, not Biden, despite results showing otherwise.

“Donald Trump won ... after you account for the fraud and irregularities that occurred,” campaign attorney Jesse Binnall told reporters as he announced a new lawsuit asking a state judge to declare Trump the winner or to invalidate the presidential vote results.

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 17 by the Trump campaign in Carson City, rehashed arguments that judges in Nevada and elsewhere have already rejected. It claims that votes were cast on behalf of dead people, that election observers weren’t allowed to witness “key points” of processing and that people on American Indian territories were illegally given incentives to vote.

The suit was assigned to Judge James Wilson Jr., who last month rejected Binnall’s bid on behalf of the Trump campaign and state Republican Party to halt the count of mailed ballots received in and around Las Vegas — a Democratic stronghold in an otherwise predominantly GOP state.

Wilson ruled that neither the state nor Clark County did anything to give one vote preference over another. Binnall appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, but dropped that effort before ballot counting ended last week.

A hearing in the Trump campaign challenge is scheduled Dec. 1. Certification of the vote does not stop several lawsuits pending in state and federal courts.

In a separate court filing on Nov. 20, a voting watchdog group led by a conservative former state lawmaker wanted a judge to block statewide certification of the election.

The Election Integrity Project, a group with right-wing ties, claimed voter fraud and alleged members found nearly 1,400 people who registered to vote in Nevada, moved to California, then voted in Nevada. 

The judge disagreed with the contention that the election results shouldn’t be certified, saying there were ways of handling fraud, but they don’t include throwing out an election. 

RELATED: Trump campaign announces federal lawsuit in Nevada

Trump lawsuits in Pennsylvania

Biden has been certified as the winner of the presidential race in Pennsylvania with an 80,555 vote lead in a culmination of three weeks of vote counting in the state.

Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, received 3,458,229 votes, according to Pennsylvania's Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar’s office. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence received 3,377,674 votes. A third Libertarian Party candidate, Jo Jorgensen, received 79,380 votes.

Since the election, Trump loyalists have filed at least 15 legal challenges in Pennsylvania alone in an effort to reclaim the state’s 20 electoral votes. 

One Trump campaign case aimed to stop the state from certifying the election, alleging Philadelphia and six counties wrongly allowed voters to correct problems with mail-in ballots that were otherwise going to be disqualified for a technicality, like lacking a secrecy envelope or a signature. 

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, signed onto the case last week after others abruptly withdrew, and the former New York mayor argued in court on Nov. 17 for the first time since the 1990s. Giuliani made allegations of a nationwide conspiracy by Democrats to steal the election, even though no such evidence has emerged in the weeks since Election Day.

On Nov. 21, the judge issued a scathing ruling, dismissing the case and barring them from filing it again. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann — a Republican and Federalist Society member in central Pennsylvania — said the plaintiffs had asked the court to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters. 

Brann compared the campaign's legal arguments to “Frankenstein's Monster,” concluding that Trump's team offered only “speculative accusations," not proof of rampant corruption.

Following the ruling, the president and other plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal Nov. 22 to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The campaign also filed a motion asking for an expedited hearing on Nov. 25 as they seek to amend the Pennsylvania lawsuit that Brann dismissed before the state certifies its election results.

On Nov. 23, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign’s appeal to disqualify ballots in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, ruling that mail-in ballots cast can be counted even if a voter failed to completely fill out the envelope.

Trump’s team filed another lawsuit Nov. 9 against Pennyslvania’s Secretary of Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar and seven county boards of elections. They claimed the state created a “two-track system of voting.” Trump’s lawyers alleged that led to voters being treated differently depending on how they exercised their right, either in person or by mail.

Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, one of the law firms representing the Trump campaign in the suit, moved to withdraw from the case on Nov. 12. The filing stated that Linda Kerns, another lawyer on the case, would remain on representing the Trump campaign, according to reports.

At the U.S. Supreme Court, 10 Republican state attorneys general filed an amicus brief Nov. 9 to support a challenge to Pennsylvania's decision to count mail-in ballots that arrived through Nov. 6. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had unanimously upheld the three-day extension set by Democratic state officials concerned about Postal Service delays and the COVID-19 pandemic. The attorneys general say the court usurped a power reserved for state lawmakers.

The U.S. Supreme Court had declined to fast-track the challenge, but the vote was 4-4, and three justices expressed reservations. Republicans hoped to try again with new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the court. The attorneys general believe the extra time meant "unscrupulous actors could attempt to influence a close Presidential election.”

Still, it's far from clear that enough ballots came in after Election Day to change the results of the presidential race in Pennsylvania. 

A federal judge dismissed a motion to stop counting in Philadelphia, but an appellate court allowed the Trump campaign to have its representative as close as 6 feet away from the vote-counting process. The state's supreme court later ruled on Nov. 17 that the city had given observers sufficient access from the start.

RELATED: Trump campaign retreats from key claim in Pennsylvania lawsuit

Trump lawsuit in Georgia

A federal judge dismissed the Trump campaign’s lawsuit on Nov. 19 that sought to halt certification of the state’s election, according to FOX 5 Atlanta. Trump-appointed Judge Steven Grimberg issued his ruling, saying Trump’s loss didn’t rise to the level of harm that would stop the certification process.

Trump’s lawyers filed the lawsuit claiming voter irregularities. According to FOX 5, a poll watcher testified that a stack of ballots looked suspicious because it appeared to be uniform and pristine.

Georgia affirmed Biden’s victory Thursday evening after a statewide recount, according to the Associated Press.

A judge in Georgia on Nov. 5 dismissed a lawsuit by the state Republican Party and Trump's campaign that asked him to ensure a coastal county was following state laws on processing absentee ballots.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge James Bass did not provide an explanation for his decision Nov. 5 at the close of a roughly one-hour hearing. Chatham County includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah.

The suit had raised concerns about 53 absentee ballots that poll observers said were not part of an original batch of ballots. County elections officials testified that all 53 ballots had been received on time.

Georgia became a battleground state in the 2020 election, coming into play during the presidential race as demographics, particularly in the metro Atlanta area, have shifted. The state was called for Biden by the Associated Press and FOX News.

RELATED: Chatham County judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit

Trump lawsuit in Arizona

The state GOP is asking a judge to stop Maricopa County from certifying the election results until the party’s lawsuit, seeking a hand recount, is settled, according to the Associated Press. But a judge on Nov. 19 rejected Republicans’ bid to postpone the certification of results and dismissed the party’s legal challenge that sought a new audit of a sampling of ballots.

County leaders said they previously conducted an audit and found no discrepancies.

The state’s GOP request came after the Trump campaign dropped a lawsuit in Arizona’s Maricopa County after finding that Biden’s margin of victory in the state is too big for the disputed ballots to make a difference.

In a filing Nov. 13, the campaign said that “the tabulation of votes statewide has rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors.”

The suit, filed by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee on Nov. 7, had alleged the county "incorrectly rejected votes" made by in-person voters on Election Day. 

It sought a manual inspection of the alleged rejected ballots that were cast in person — though attorneys said the votes in question only totaled 191.

On Nov. 10, an attorney representing Trump’s reelection team asked the Maricopa County Superior Court judge to seal the evidence of their claim to "protect identities of witnesses," which the judge denied. Maricopa County Deputy Attorney Tom Liddy had argued against the sealing of evidence, saying the public has a right to know.

"If you are going to bring a case and claim you have evidence that the election is no good, that there’s systematic failure, that there’s thousands of ballots out there for Donald J. Trump that aren’t being counted, you must make it in the sunshine," Liddy said, according to local news reports.

The lawsuit was announced the same day Arizona was called for Biden by FOX News and the AP. Arizona's Secretary of State Katie Hobbs responded to the lawsuit saying it had no merit and was a tactic to try and stall the election.

Arizona’s deadline for counties to verify their election results is Nov. 30.

RELATED: Trump campaign concedes on Arizona lawsuit; says ruling on presidential election 'unnecessary'

Trump recount requests

The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Nov. 19 ordered a recount of more than 800,000 ballots cast in two heavily Democratic counties. Biden won Wisconsin by 20,600 votes.

Trump paid $3 million and filed a petition for the recount, seeking to undo Biden's victory in the key state. Trump claims “irregularities” in Milwaukee and Dane counties, which went for Biden by a more than 2-to-1 margin, but no evidence of illegal activity has been presented.

The state does not have automatic recounts, but under Wisconsin law, one can be requested with the required margin of 1% or less. The losing candidate must pay for it but is refunded if the recount changes the election outcome.

On Nov. 24, the fourth day of the recount, 386 absentee ballots cast in Milwaukee that were not opened on Election Day were discovered, a mistake the city’s top elections official attributed to human error.

The city’s top elections official, Claire Woodall-Vogg, said not counting the 386 ballots on Nov. 3 was due to an error by new election inspectors. The unopened ballots were discovered underneath ballots that had been counted, she said. The county board of canvassers voted unanimously to count the ballots as part of the recount.

“If there’s one positive to come out of the recount it’s that indeed that every vote is being counted, including these 386,” Woodall-Vogg said.

As Nov. 24, recounted ballots not including the newly discovered ones showed a net gain of only 57 votes for Trump.

Election officials must complete the recount by Dec. 1, the deadline for certifying the vote.

RELATED: Wisconsin recount cleared to begin after partisan fight

Trump’s campaign requested a recount of votes in the Georgia presidential race on Nov. 21, a day after state officials certified results showing Biden won the state.

Georgia’s results showed Biden beating Trump by 12,670 votes out of about 5 million cast, or 0.25%.

State law allows a candidate to request a recount if the margin is less than 0.5%. Election workers already spent days recounting the state’s votes cast in the race — part of a statewide audit to make sure the state's new voting machines counted accurately. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp formalized the state’s slate of 16 presidential electors.

RELATED: Recount process moves forward in Georgia, after request from Trump campaign

The Trump campaign sent a hand-delivered letter to the secretary of state’s office requesting the recount, meaning Georgia’s votes are being tabulated for the third time. This time, the recount will be done by high-speed scanners and not by hand.

Counties must complete this recount by Dec. 2.

RELATED: Election recount rules, processes vary by state

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.