What's happening with lawsuits, postal votes and recounts in the US election?

Donald Trump has launched legal challenges in five key US states, alleging that election officials are counting fraudulent votes despite very little evidence. The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said on Thursday, 12, that the general election was the most secure in US history. However, though Joe Biden has been announced the winner of the election, the process could be protracted for weeks, and the damage to public confidence in the democratic process could last much longer because of Mr Trumps lawsuits. On Monday, 9 November, the US Attorney-General instructed prosecutors to investigate claims of voter fraud – though there is little evidence of it. This led to the resignation of justice department official Richard Pilger on the same day. Several far-right groups rallied the capital this Saturday, November 14th, in a public showcase of their support for Mr Trump, and to express their anger at the claims of voting fraud in the election. Mr Trump showed his appreciation in the run up to the protest on Twitter, writing: “Heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support out there, especially the organic Rallies that are springing up all over the country, including a big one on Saturday in D.C. I may even try to stop by and say hello.” Mr Trump did not go along in person, but retweeted footage from the protests with the captions, "Amazing!" and "Spirit like never before!" Smaller groups of anti-Trump protesters also gathered in Washington in support of Joe Biden. Some of the protesters clashed with Trump supporters and law enforcement, and CNN reported that at least 20 people were arrested and two officers with the DC Metropolitan Police were injured. The claims of fraud still continue and Mr Trump still insists he is not conceding the US election.  Here is what's happening in each state.  2020 US election results map in full Which states are facing voting challenges? Michigan The Trump campaign filed a fresh lawsuit in Michigan on Wednesday, 11 November, this time asking a  federal court to block the state from certifying the election  - which Joe Biden won by around 145,000 votes. It is alleging there were irregularities in the way in which votes were tabulated and also that Republican observers were improperly harassed. Allegations include that ineligible ballots were counted including votes which were deposited in dropboxes after the deadline. The campaign filed a similar claim in a Michigan state court, which was dismissed by the judge, Timothy Kenny, who said he found no evidence to support the assertions. The state was key to Donald Trump's victory in 2016, when he flipped it from the Democrats by less than 11,000 votes, but this year Joe Biden has won its 16 electoral votes with 99 per cent of the votes counted.  Georgia Mr Biden claimed victory in Georgia, and was the first Democrat to do so for almost three decades.  However, the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, has ordered a hand recount of ballots in Georgia, after Mr Biden claimed victory in the state by 14,000 votes.  After the hand recount, the losing party can request another, which would be done by machine in the state which has 16 votes in the Electoral College.  Mr Raffensperger has dismissed claims of election fraud, and cast doubts on the likelihood of the recount swinging the result in Mr Trump's favour.  He acknowledged there may have been some illegal voting, but said "My office is investigating all of it. Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes? That is unlikely.” A formal recount will take place in late November. However, despite the recount, it now looks impossible for Mr Biden’s lead to be overturned, as the Democrats won the state by an overwhelming majority.  Georgia was a vital state for the president, who would have needed to win more of the remaining states than Mr Biden in order to grab the presidency.  The Georgia Republican Party and President Trump have asked a judge to secure and account for all late ballots. A Republican poll watcher claimed that election officials in Chatham County, Georgia, added 53 mail-in ballots which arrived late to a pile of lawfully collected votes. Mail-in ballots are expected to lean toward the Democrats. A judge dismissed the lawsuit, however, Chatham County Superior Court Judge James Bass did not provide an explanation for his decision on Thursday, November 5, at the close of a roughly one-hour hearing. The county includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah. Wisconsin Mr Trump's reelection campaign is seeking a recount in Wisconsin after Mr Biden won by less than 0.7 per cent of the vote. Under state law, a recount may be requested if the margin of defeat is less than one per cent. If the recount does take place Mr Trump will need to cover the costs, which could run into millions of dollars. Reports by media outlets in Milwaukee, Wisconsin's

What's happening with lawsuits, postal votes and recounts in the US election?

Donald Trump has launched legal challenges in five key US states, alleging that election officials are counting fraudulent votes despite very little evidence.

The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said on Thursday, 12, that the general election was the most secure in US history.

However, though Joe Biden has been announced the winner of the election, the process could be protracted for weeks, and the damage to public confidence in the democratic process could last much longer because of Mr Trumps lawsuits.

On Monday, 9 November, the US Attorney-General instructed prosecutors to investigate claims of voter fraud – though there is little evidence of it. This led to the resignation of justice department official Richard Pilger on the same day.

Several far-right groups rallied the capital this Saturday, November 14th, in a public showcase of their support for Mr Trump, and to express their anger at the claims of voting fraud in the election. Mr Trump showed his appreciation in the run up to the protest on Twitter, writing: “Heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support out there, especially the organic Rallies that are springing up all over the country, including a big one on Saturday in D.C. I may even try to stop by and say hello.”

Mr Trump did not go along in person, but retweeted footage from the protests with the captions, "Amazing!" and "Spirit like never before!"

Smaller groups of anti-Trump protesters also gathered in Washington in support of Joe Biden. Some of the protesters clashed with Trump supporters and law enforcement, and CNN reported that at least 20 people were arrested and two officers with the DC Metropolitan Police were injured.

The claims of fraud still continue and Mr Trump still insists he is not conceding the US election.

 Here is what's happening in each state. 

2020 US election results map in full

Which states are facing voting challenges?

Michigan

The Trump campaign filed a fresh lawsuit in Michigan on Wednesday, 11 November, this time asking a  federal court to block the state from certifying the election  - which Joe Biden won by around 145,000 votes.

It is alleging there were irregularities in the way in which votes were tabulated and also that Republican observers were improperly harassed.

Allegations include that ineligible ballots were counted including votes which were deposited in dropboxes after the deadline.

The campaign filed a similar claim in a Michigan state court, which was dismissed by the judge, Timothy Kenny, who said he found no evidence to support the assertions.

The state was key to Donald Trump's victory in 2016, when he flipped it from the Democrats by less than 11,000 votes, but this year Joe Biden has won its 16 electoral votes with 99 per cent of the votes counted. 

Georgia

Mr Biden claimed victory in Georgia, and was the first Democrat to do so for almost three decades. 

However, the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, has ordered a hand recount of ballots in Georgia, after Mr Biden claimed victory in the state by 14,000 votes. 

After the hand recount, the losing party can request another, which would be done by machine in the state which has 16 votes in the Electoral College. 

Mr Raffensperger has dismissed claims of election fraud, and cast doubts on the likelihood of the recount swinging the result in Mr Trump's favour. 

He acknowledged there may have been some illegal voting, but said "My office is investigating all of it. Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes? That is unlikely.”

A formal recount will take place in late November. However, despite the recount, it now looks impossible for Mr Biden’s lead to be overturned, as the Democrats won the state by an overwhelming majority. 

Georgia was a vital state for the president, who would have needed to win more of the remaining states than Mr Biden in order to grab the presidency. 

The Georgia Republican Party and President Trump have asked a judge to secure and account for all late ballots.

A Republican poll watcher claimed that election officials in Chatham County, Georgia, added 53 mail-in ballots which arrived late to a pile of lawfully collected votes. Mail-in ballots are expected to lean toward the Democrats.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit, however, Chatham County Superior Court Judge James Bass did not provide an explanation for his decision on Thursday, November 5, at the close of a roughly one-hour hearing.

The county includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah.

Wisconsin

Mr Trump's reelection campaign is seeking a recount in Wisconsin after Mr Biden won by less than 0.7 per cent of the vote. Under state law, a recount may be requested if the margin of defeat is less than one per cent.

If the recount does take place Mr Trump will need to cover the costs, which could run into millions of dollars.

Reports by media outlets in Milwaukee, Wisconsin's largest city, suggest the Trump campaign is looking into absentee voters' addresses and the state’s residency requirement, but the widespread claims of voter fraud by the campaign remain unsubstantiated.

Republican Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker tweeted “If it holds, 20,000 is a high hurdle” in regards to Mr Biden's current lead over Mr Trump, acknowledging that previous recounts had only changed the tally by a few hundred votes at most.

Nevada

With 96 per cent of the votes counted, Nevada has been declared a win for Joe Biden, who currently holds a 2.6 per cent lead. 

Republicans have hurled multiple lawsuits at Nevada. The Trump campaign announced it would sue the state to stop counting after they claimed ballots have been cast by non-residents and on behalf of the deceased. 

But Nevada election officials pointed out that active military service members who have been transferred outside of Nevada could account for some of these ballots.

A request by the campaign to halt counting in Clark County, Nevada, which usually leans towards the Democrats, was rejected by the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 10.

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks at a press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, held by the Trump campaign Credit: Joe Buglewicz / Bloomberg

Pennsylvania 

The Trump campaign has dropped claims of alleged fraud in the key swing state of Pennsylvania.

President Donald Trump’s lawyers abandoned its request in a lawsuit filed in Philadelphia for 682,479 mail-in and absentee ballots to be thrown out because they claimed they were processed without their poll watchers present.

Pennsylvania was instrumental in securing Joe Biden's win, with the state's 20 electoral votes taking Mr Biden to a majority of 279, more than sufficient to secure the presidency. 

Multiple legal challenges have been filed by Mr Trump in the state. Notably, they have become involved in a Supreme Court case which challenges a state law that allows mail-in ballots to be counted until Friday November 6. 

The president won a different lawsuit in the state on Thursday 5, which means observers can stand six feet from count officials.

Judges sided with Republicans and also ordered some provisional ballots set aside. Legal experts said the legal challenges were too narrow in scope to have an impact on the outcome of the election.

Mr Biden had extended his lead in Pennsylvania by 49.9 per cent to Mr Trump’s 49.1 per cent, with an estimated 99 per cent of votes counted. 

On Thursday, November 12, the Porter Wright Morris & Arthur firm withdrew their case which claimed that mail ballots had formed “an illegal two-tiered voting system”. The decision from this Pennsylvania-based firm is among the blows to Mr Trump’s efforts to change the results of the election in court.

 What has caused the confusion? 

  • There are different voting and counting rules in different states. Recount margins vary and in some states, like Pennsylvania, voter ID is required for first-time mail-in and absentee votes. In 21 states, like Nevada, mail-in ballots can be received after election day, but in others they cannot
  • Difficulties with administration - absentee ballots need to be checked against the rolls, and this slows up counts in some neck-and-neck states
  • More people have voted by post due to the coronavirus pandemic, creating counting delays
  • In most states, postal votes have favoured Joe Biden more than votes cast on election day. This is possibly due to the two candidates' different messages on coronavirus, but the Trump campaign has been alleging these votes are fraudulent for several weeks
  • Big-city counts take longer and urban areas generally vote Democrat

When will the election result be final?

All disputes must be settled by December 8. On December 14, electors will formally cast their votes in the Electoral College. Then, the most important event of them all, the inauguration, is then scheduled for Wednesday, January 20 2021.