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Lack of evidence make Trump’s legal challenge an uphill battle

President Trump has vowed to challenge the election results, which have declared Joe Biden as the president-elect. The legal challenges began well before Election Day with lawsuits over mail-in voting and which ballots were “legally” cast. Guy-Uriel Charles, professor of law at Duke University and co-director of the Center of Law, Race and Politics joins to discuss.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The legal challenges in this election began well before Election Day, with lawsuits over mail-in voting, what ballots would be counted and more. The president and his team have said despite Joe Biden being declared the next president of The United States, more lawsuits lie in wait.

    I spoke with Guy Charles, professor of law at Duke University and co-director of the Center on Law, Race and Politics.

  • Guy Charles:

    This election, even though it has been an election under a global pandemic, has actually been run fairly well. And so, it's really hard to find places in the election that you can say, election administrators were counting votes that weren't supposed to be counted that enable people to vote, who shouldn't have voted. And given the margins of where we know them in the various battleground states, it's going to be very hard to find evidence of wrongdoing and therefore to overcome the advantages that now President-elect Joe Biden has and these battleground states.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So it's not just about finding the kind of anecdotal case where there might be four ballots missing or 10 ballots missing, but something that was systematic enough to overturn the 20,000 margin lead in a state or the 50,000 margin lead and somewhere else?

  • Guy Charles:

    That's correct. So what they would have to show is either a significant number of ballots, 50,000 or 20,000, 30,000 in Pennsylvania, for example, and those ballots should not have been counted, something went wrong, there is a tabulation error, there's some mistake of law that happened and that would overturn the results that that would lead us to believe that the results and the election would undermine our faith in the result.

    So, finding a straight voter who was not either able to vote or something went wrong in one or two instances, that is wildly insufficient. And you have to put yourself in the position of a judge. The judge would have to overturn an election on the basis of one or two things that were wrong. And they are even having a hard time finding that, much less we're talking about the thousands and tens of thousands systematically across the country. So you could start in Pennsylvania, do have it there? Well if you don't have it, it's in Georgia, right? That's the challenge that they are facing. And it's an uphill battle, I think is an understatement.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    But one thing people are concerned about is how many of these things make it to the Supreme Court and does the Supreme Court weigh in, similar to 2000, where the decision to stop the count in Florida at that point was significant.

    At this point, we have a presumptive nominee based on all of these counts that have been happening in all these different states. But there are legal challenges in multiple states that the administration or I should say, the Trump campaign has made.

  • Guy Charles:

    That's right.

    So the this case is not comparable to Bush v. Gore. So in 2000, you basically, the election came down to one state and we're talking about a very small margin. And really there's a significant question as to how the ballots were being counted and were they being counted in a way that was uniform. Moreover, as the process went along and the secretary of state certified a winner, then the question was, can you, what is that you're going to do to overcome that presumption? And will continuing the process undermine the legitimacy of the election, especially in light of the fact that there didn't seem to be significant evidence or any evidence of wrongdoing?

    And so, you had a winner who was trying to preserve, this was Bush, trying to preserve his margins. And this case, you have the president who is behind, significantly behind and in a number of different states. And we don't have the same, anywhere near the same, set of questions with respect to the counting of the ballots.

    As far as we know, all of the evidence that we have and all of these various states is that the ballots were accurately counted. And so there's really nothing for him to point to.

    So it doesn't come down to one state is behind, it doesn't have the evidence and it just is not a comparable situation, as much as one would like for it to be. The facts just are not there.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Guy Charles, professor of law at Duke University, thanks so much for joining us.

  • Guy Charles:

    Thank you so much for having me.

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