As members of Congress gather today to finalize the results of the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump and his supporters are still insisting he won. Republican lawmakers in both chambers are preparing to object to the electoral tallies in key swing states, echoing the president’s claims of voter fraud. They won’t succeed. They don’t have the numbers. And they also don’t have the facts to support their claims. It’s worth pausing for a moment to understand what exactly they’re claiming and why they’re so wrong.
First of all, since it’s not uncommon for a political candidate to claim that an election was stolen from them, there obviously needs to be a high bar when it comes to proof. How could a candidate clear that bar? Well, first and foremost, they’d need to prove that any potential fraud could have cost them the election. So, if, let’s say, a governor of a state loses by 20,000 votes, but there’s strong evidence that there were 100 fraudulent votes, that shouldn’t be enough to overturn the election. That’s because voter disenfranchisement goes both ways. While the voters would be wronged if fraud changed the results of the election, changing the results of the election without enough fraud to change the results would also wrong the voters.
That puts Trump in an extremely difficult position right off the bat because Biden captured 306 electoral votes, while Trump only received 232. That means Trump would have to prove there was enough fraud to change the results in at least three contested states to overcome Biden’s lead. Maybe more. For example, if Trump proved that fraud cost him Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada, he’d STILL come up short.
If Trump did have evidence that there was fraud in three or more states, how could he prove it? Trump or his lawyers making a claim certainly isn’t proof. Neither are opinion pieces in the conservative media, particularly when claims of fraud are being rewarded with attention and traffic while admitting Trump lost just produces mostly angry comments. With that in mind, how would Trump prove he was cheated? Well, he’d have to prove it in the courts—and Trump has certainly tried to do that. At least 57 lawsuits have been filed, some of them by Trump’s legal team and some by other lawyers. Guess what? Other than inconsequential, temporary victories, none of them has succeeded. Liberal-leaning courts, conservative-leaning courts—it makes no difference because claims of fraud have gotten nowhere. Sometimes that has been because of a lack of standing or some other issue, but the real problem is that all these fraud claims melt under scrutiny in a courtroom. For example, in Michigan, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker wrote: