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Election Update: Trump Campaign Files Lawsuits In Attempt To Change Election Results

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Election workers around the country continue to count ballots today even as the Trump campaign files more legal challenges to the process. Protesters also gathered in a number of cities, worried that one side or the other is trying to steal the election. We're joined now by NPR's Pam Fessler, who has been watching all of this.

Hey, Pam.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: All right. So what is the latest on all of these legal battles over this entire vote count?

FESSLER: Yeah, there's been so much going on today. The Trump campaign is continuing to insist, without any evidence so far, that the Democrats are manipulating the vote count. And this morning, they filed a suit to temporarily stop the counting in Nevada. They say that some of the ballots there were cast illegally in the name of voters who had either moved or died. And here's Republican Adam Laxalt. He's the former state attorney general.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ADAM LAXALT: We firmly believe that there are many voters in this group of mail-in people that are not proper voters. In the last many days, we have received reports of many irregularities.

FESSLER: Now, the campaign did win one case this morning in Pennsylvania. A state appeals court allowed GOP observers to have more access to the vote counting in Philadelphia. The Republicans said that they were being kept too far away from election workers, so they couldn't see what was going on. But then they filed a new suit this afternoon saying they still don't have enough access. They also lost two cases, one in Georgia involving ballots that Republicans said had arrived past the deadline. A judge there said there was no evidence that that happened. And a judge in Michigan dismissed another lawsuit involving access for Republican observers.

CHANG: OK, so I'm curious what seems to be the central legal strategy from the Trump campaign. I mean, is there one, you think?

FESSLER: Well, the campaign insists that their goal is simply to make sure that all the legitimate votes are counted, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of consistency. The president and his supporters are demanding that all votes be counted in the states where he's losing but that voting be stopped in places where he's ahead. I spoke with Josh Douglas, who's an election law expert at the University of Kentucky. And he thinks the main goal is to undermine confidence in the election results if Trump loses.

JOSHUA DOUGLAS: It does seem like they're throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, which I tell my law students is never a good strategy. You need to have actual legal arguments with real evidence. And again, I think probably the political goal here is to sow discord.

FESSLER: Douglas notes that most of these cases don't even involve that many votes. But, of course, if the final count ends up being really close, that could matter.

CHANG: Absolutely. Meanwhile, as we said, we are seeing public protests in a few cities. I understand these are people showing up outside ballot counting places.

FESSLER: Yeah, for the most part. There were sporadic protests around the country both yesterday and today. They involve groups that are worried that President Trump is trying to steal the election and Trump supporters who think that Democrats are cheating. There were two of these groups facing off today outside the convention center in Philadelphia, where vote counting has been especially contentious. One side was chanting, count every vote, while the other said, legal votes matter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) Count every vote. Count every vote.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Chanting) Jews for Trump. Jews for Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: We are. Every legal vote, we're counting. We will. We're counting every vote.

FESSLER: There were also anti-Trump protests last night in Portland, Minneapolis, New York and Washington, some of which involved vandalism and arrests. And then there were several groups of Trump supporters who gathered outside the ballot counting operations in Arizona and Michigan, demanding that they let - be let in to watch. And things got pretty intense, Ailsa, in Phoenix, where a couple of hundred protesters, including a few who were armed, gathered outside the Maricopa County...

CHANG: Wow.

FESSLER: ...Election office, chanting, stop the steal.

CHANG: Well, ultimately, Pam, I mean, what impact has all of this had, both the litigation and the protests? What impact has all of that had on the actual vote counting?

FESSLER: Well, for the most part, it's just proceeding. You know, the election workers are hunkering down. They're trying to finish this job that they're supposed to be doing, which is counting all the votes. There's still some coming in. Some mail-in ballots are still arriving, including those from overseas and members of the military. And those are allowed to be counted if they were sent by Election Day. There are also provisional ballots that need to be verified. And so some of this could take days if not weeks.

CHANG: That is NPR's Pam Fessler.

Thank you, Pam.

FESSLER: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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