WASHINGTON — As Democrat Joe Biden inched closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, President Donald Trump’s campaign put into action the legal strategy the president had signaled for weeks: attacking the integrity of the voting process in states where the result could mean his defeat.
Democrats scoffed at the legal challenges the president’s campaign filed Wednesday in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. In spite of the aggressive move, the flurry of court action did not seem obviously destined to impact the election’s outcome.
The new filings, joining existing Republican legal challenges in Pennsylvania and Nevada, demand better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted, and raised absentee ballot concerns, the campaign said.
The Associated Press called Michigan for Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday. The AP has not called Nevada, Pennsylvania or Georgia.
The Trump campaign also is seeking to intervene in a Pennsylvania case at the Supreme Court that deals with whether ballots received up to three days after the election can be counted, deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said.
Trump’s campaign also announced that it would ask for a recount in Wisconsin, a state the AP called for Biden on Wednesday afternoon. Campaign manager Bill Stepien cited “irregularities in several Wisconsin counties,” without providing specifics.
Biden said Wednesday the count should continue in all states, adding, “No one’s going to take our democracy away from us — not now, not ever.”
Campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said legal challenges were not the behavior of a winning campaign.
“What makes these charades especially pathetic is that while Trump is demanding recounts in places he has already lost, he’s simultaneously engaged in fruitless attempts to halt the counting of votes in other states in which he’s on the road to defeat,” Bates said in a statement.
Vote counting, meanwhile, stretched into Thursday. Every election, results reported on election night are unofficial and ballot counting extends past Election Day. But this year, unlike in previous years, states were contending with an avalanche of mail ballots driven by fears of voting in person during a pandemic.
Mail ballots normally take more time to verify and count. This year, because of the large numbers of mail ballots and a close race, results were expected to take longer.
The lawsuits the Trump campaign filed in Michigan and Pennsylvania on Wednesday called for a temporary halt in the counting until it is given “meaningful” access in numerous locations and allowed to review ballots that already have been opened and processed.
Two days after Election Day, neither candidate had amassed the votes needed to win the White House. But Biden’s victories in the Great Lakes states left him at 264, meaning he was one battleground state away — any would do — from becoming president-elect. Trump, with 214 electoral votes, faced a much higher hurdle. To reach 270, he needed to claim all four remaining battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada.
With millions of votes yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 71 million votes, the most in history. At an afternoon news conference Wednesday, the former vice president said he expected to win the presidency but stopped short of outright declaring victory. “I will govern as an American president,” Biden said. “There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America.”