Richard Robyn

Political science professor Richard Robyn. 

The Trump campaign has filed at least 17 lawsuits in both state and federal courts with claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent following election results. Any evidence of voter fraud has yet to be proven.  

“A lot of the Trump lawsuits seem to be theories in search of facts. A judge is looking for a legal argument theory and the facts or evidence in a case of fraud,” said political science professor Richard Robyn. ”In the lawsuits that I am aware of, the lawsuits have been rejected either because the theory wasn’t clear or because there was no evidence."

When you have a weak theory or no evidence, the case will likely not make it through court. The margin of litigation has not met the threshold it would need to have a case, Robyn said. 

At least four lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign have been dismissed while others are still pending. 

“It is unknown what this election will do in terms of impact because we don’t have a complete resolution in President Trump’s ability to concede,” said political science professor Christopher Banks. "We are in a place where we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, other than as time moves on more of the forces will be in place to effectuate a transition.”

Christopher Banks headshot

Political science professor Christopher P. Banks.

If the Trump administration continues to combat the results, the incoming Biden administration will not have access to resources that are usually available to the incoming president. The General Services Administration has to formally determine, or “ascertain,” the winner of the election under the 1963 Presidential Transition Act. 

“The official at the GSA has refused to sign off on the transition, which means that the transition will most likely be delayed until Trump changes his mind, or the time for transition comes upon that person through the courts,” Banks said. 

Presidential transitions have gone smoothly over the decades. Considering it is early into the stages of transition, there is no need for real concern as of now, Robyn said. 

The Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. Each elector votes for the president and vice president on their own ballot and signs it. 

“Normally, in a presidential election year when the electors meet, everyone knows the results already. In this case, if it is delayed, it is unclear what will happen,” Robyn said. “It was delayed before in the year 2000 in the Bush v. Gore election.”

In the Bush v. Gore election, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court request for a manual recount of Florida’s election ballots. The decision was 5-4 which gave Florida’s 25 electoral votes to George W. Bush, pushing him over the 270 votes he needed to win the election. 

Election Timeline

“Bush ended up winning Florida by 537 votes. This is an example of why Trump’s lawsuits probably have no merit in the end, because judges take into consideration if the vote is close or not, and if their decision will make any difference in the vote,” Robyn said. “With Biden having a lead of thousands of votes, the lawsuits probably will not have much of an impact no matter what they decide.”

What impact might this election have on public opinion?

The 2020 election has been different from other recent presidential elections due to claims of voter fraud, delayed results and the fact that President Donald Trump is the first president in 28 years to not win a second term in office. Political polarization will continue to define the United States following this election, according to the Pew Research Center

“For the implications, it depends on which group you are talking about. For Republican voters and Trump supporters, they will think that this is a democratic process. If there is widespread fraud, it must be found and corrected. For them, they are looking at it as completely legitimate,” said communication studies professor Mei-Chen Lin. “For Democrats and people who support Biden, they think that such a claim has implications on how we trust the institution.”

An important part of the democratic process is if people can trust the institution. The claim that the election is illegitimate casts doubt on the institution, which has negative implications in the long run, Lin said. 

Election results are usually clear on the night of the election itself. This year, results were announced nearly four days later. 

“I think people will still be patient. I think people will start being more uncomfortable after Dec. 14, because that is when they should certify the election results,” Lin said. ”If that’s over and there are still claims of election fraud, I think there will be more criticism, people being impatient and more negative attitudes towards the administration.”

It is unclear what the long term effects of this election will be. 

Mei-Chen Lin

Communication studies professor Mei-Chen Lin. 

Progressives see the election as their opportunity to protect policies that are important to them, such as same sex marriage, LGBTQ rights and reversing environmental problems. Those policies have felt like they were threatened for the past four years, Lin said. 

“I think the bigger picture of this election is threat and hope. In terms of threat, everybody from both sides feels that threat. For the conservatives, they feel a threat of their conservative values, and if people in the rural areas will be left behind,” Lin said. “For hope, I think most people have faith in democracy. There was a historical amount of voters, which shows they have hope a change can be made.”

Kandra Hill is a teaching reporter. Contact her at khill56@kent.edu

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