Thursday Reads

Birch Grove, Isaac Levitan, 1885=89

Birch Grove, Isaac Levitan, 1885-89

Good Morning!!

My brain is mush this morning. I stayed up all night on Tuesday, fell asleep very early yesterday, and woke up this morning at 3:00. I’m too old for this. I wonder when we’ll know something definitive about the election results. At least we know that Biden is the winner; we just don’t know which state will put him over the top.

The best outcome would be for Pennsylvania to be called for Biden. Here’s Senator Bob Casey explaining where vote counting stands in his state as of this morning:

John Wagner has  live election updates on the state of the race at The Washington Post: Biden closes in on electoral college victory; race narrows in Arizona, Georgia.

The latest …
  • Arizona: Biden’s lead narrowed to about 68,000 votes early Thursday as Maricopa County, the state’s largest jurisdiction, released the tallies of more ballots it had counted. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said her state has just under 450,000 ballots left to count.
  • Georgia: Fulton County, home to Atlanta, continued counting ballots overnight. Trump’s lead had narrowed to about 18,500 votes as of early Thursday. Fulton County elections chief Rick Barron said officials will release more vote totals around 11 a.m.
  • Nevada: Updated vote totals will be released around noon Eastern time Thursday, officials said.
  • North Carolina: As of late Wednesday, officials were still counting provisional and absentee ballots. Trump was ahead, but officials said it is likely that the winner will not be known for days.
  • Pennsylvania: Trump maintained a lead of about 164,000 votes, but that was expected to shrink as more ballots were counted in heavily Democratic areas.

Trump is supposedly filing lawsuits to stop vote counting in states that look bad for him, but it seems unlikely his efforts will come to anything. 

Claude Monet - (1840 - 1926) Ulivi nel giardino Moreno 1884

Claude Monet – (1840 – 1926) Ulivi nel giardino Moreno 1884

The New York Times: With His Path to Re-election Narrowing, Trump Turns to the Courts.

With his political path narrowing, President Trump turned to the courts and procedural maneuvers on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to stave off defeat in the handful of states that will decide the outcome of the bitterly fought election.

The president’s campaign intervened at the Supreme Court in a case challenging Pennsylvania’s plan to count ballots received for up to three days after Election Day. The campaign said it would also file suit in Michigan to halt the counting there while it pursues its demands for better access for the observers it sent to monitor elections boards for signs of malfeasance in tallying ballots, modeled on a similar suit it was pursuing in Nevada.

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Trump’s team added Georgia to its list of legal targets, seeking a court order enforcing strict deadlines in Chatham County in the wake of allegations by a Republican poll observer that a small number of ineligible ballots might be counted in one location.

In Wisconsin, which along with Michigan was called on Wednesday for his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the president’s campaign announced it would request a recount.

I think the best outcome we can hope for today is that Pennsylvania will get enough votes counted for the state to be called for Biden. That would put him over 270, and make Trump’s claims in other states irrelevant. Here’s Senator Bob Casey explaining where the Pennsylvania vote counting stands this morning.

The moves signaled Mr. Trump’s determination to make good on his longstanding threats to carry out an aggressive post-Election Day campaign to upend any result not in his favor and pursue his baseless allegations that the outcome was rigged.

But it was not clear how much effect any of his efforts would have. In Georgia, the suit is about 53 ballots, and another case in Pennsylvania is about fewer than 100.

The Road Under the Trees, Maurice de Vlaminck

The Road Under the Trees, Maurice de Vlaminck

The Biden camp is ready to fight back, according to Politico: Biden campaign gears up for legal warfare as he nears 270.

In a Zoom call with donors Wednesday, the aides told the group that Joe Biden was on pace to reach 270 electoral votes in short order, beaming over victories in the Midwestern states that Donald Trump flipped four years ago….

The campaign had good reason to project confidence: On Wednesday evening, Biden was on the cusp of clinching 270 electoral votes and the presidency after Michigan and Wisconsin were called in his favor.

At the same time, President Donald Trump was making specious claims of victory, cranking up unfounded grievances about stolen votes and filing lawsuits to challenge vote counts. Biden advisers moved to reassure anxious supporters as Trump declared himself the winner in states such as Pennsylvania, where hundreds of thousands of votes had yet to be tallied.

Biden’s team activated teams of attorneys in Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan in preparation for court battles, and blasted out requests for donations to combat myriad legal challenges.

Canale a Bruges by Alfred Joseph Auguste Van Neste (1874-1969)The problem for Trump is that he would have to provide actual evidence of the “fraud” he is claiming. ProPublica: If Trump Tries to Sue His Way to Election Victory, Here’s What Happens.

A hearing on Wednesday in an election case captured in miniature the challenge for the Trump campaign as it gears up for what could become an all-out legal assault on presidential election results in key swing states: It’s easy enough to file a lawsuit claiming improprieties — in this case, that Pennsylvania had violated the law by allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were defective to correct them — but a lot harder to provide evidence of wrongdoing or a convincing legal argument. “I don’t understand how the integrity of the election was affected,” said U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage, something he repeated several times during the hearing. (However the judge rules, the case is unlikely to have a significant effect; only 93 ballots are at issue, a county election official said.)

“A lawsuit without provable facts showing a statutory or constitutional violation is just a tweet with a filing fee,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Levitt said judges by and large have ignored the noise of the race and the bluster of President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. “They’ve actually demanded facts and haven’t been ruling on all-caps claims of fraud or suppression,” Levitt said. “They haven’t confused public relations with the predicate for litigation, and I would expect that to continue.”

If Levitt is right, that may augur poorly for the legal challenges to the presidential election. Either way, the number of cases is starting to rapidly increase. But lawsuits will do little good unless, as in the 2000 presidential election, the race winds up being so close that it comes down to a very thin margin of votes in one or more must-win states.

Read the rest at ProPublica.

Lane at alchamps, Arles, Paul Gaugin, 1888

Lane at alchamps, Arles, Paul Gaugin, 1888

Trump seems to think that he can just call on “his” Supreme Court justices to overturn the results of the election. But he can’t actually do that. Zoe Tillman at Buzzfeed News: Supreme Court To Fight Election Results. Here’s What Would Need To Happen To End Up There.

In the early hours of Wednesday, with many states still going through the lawful process of tallying votes, President Donald Trump declared: “We will be going to the Supreme Court.”

That’s not how the courts work, though. With rare exceptions that don’t apply to the election, no one can simply bring a case to the US Supreme Court. Trump’s rhetoric created an appearance of legal uncertainty around the election results that doesn’t exist yet — by Wednesday evening, there were a handful of lawsuits pending, but none involved the kind of consequential fights over final vote tallies that would decide the outcome of the race.

That could change, of course. Trump’s campaign said they’ll seek a recount in Wisconsin after former vice president Joe Biden was declared the winner, and could try to go to court to challenge the results if he still lost after that. Decision Desk HQ called Wisconsin for Biden outright on Wednesday.

There’s already a case pending before the Supreme Court about whether Pennsylvania can count absentee ballots that arrive between Nov. 4 and Nov. 6, but that would only be a vehicle for deciding the election if the race came down to Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes — and if those as-yet-unknown number of post–Election Day ballots would change the outcome.

Regardless of whether the Trump campaign’s lawsuits succeed in stopping any ballots from being counted, they’ve underscored Trump and his campaign’s efforts to falsely question the lawfulness of ballot counting that extends beyond Election Day — something that happens in every election.