Can Donald Trump stop the recounting in Florida?
Trump wants to stop the count : Who will determine the end result - and how can the election be challenged?
Although the decision had not yet been made, Donald Trump declared himself the winner of the US presidential election that night and demanded that the further counting of votes must be stopped. He will turn to the courts with this request.
He later also raised allegations of fraud on Twitter: In the highly competitive state of Pennsylvania, they were "working hard" to quickly make half a million votes "disappear".
Trump gave the impression that the postal votes not yet counted were only filled in after the polling stations had closed and should therefore not be taken into account. In fact, to be valid, ballot papers should be filled out and mailed on election day or earlier - but votes without postmark may also be counted if there is no evidence that they were sent after election day.
It is widely expected that the vast majority of votes by absenteeism are votes from supporters of the Democrats. You use the option to vote by post. Republicans tend to vote in person at the polling station.
Who will ultimately determine the result?
There is no central national election officer like in Germany. The votes are counted and reported in the counties, in the districts.
The big TV stations like Fox and CNN and the news agency AP add up the reports from the circles. They declare a candidate a winner in a state as soon as the lead in the sum of the circles is so great that it is no longer possible to catch up.
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In some cases, projections for the remaining circles are also included - which can mean that the assessments of the broadcasters differ. In Arizona, for example, Fox declared Joe Biden the winner very early in the evening - AP also declared Biden the winner in this central race at 2.50 a.m. American time (8.50 a.m. German time) - while CNN continued the race into the late afternoon German time left open.
When 270 electoral votes are reached, one candidate usually declares himself the winner, the other admits his defeat and congratulates. This formal recognition of the result is based on traditions, not laws - which has now become a problem.
The state governors then formally declare who their electorates are and issue them "certificates". This dates back to the early days of American history when the electors rode to the meeting with copies of these certificates. This must be done by November 8th at the latest, the “Safe Harbor Deadline”.
The Electoral College will meet on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December - this year on December 14th. You choose and issue a certificate to the president. Congress gives the final seal of choice. It meets on January 6th, counts the votes of the electorate and announces the result.
Could Trump actually stop the further count?
Since his announcement that the counting would be stopped by the courts, observers have been puzzled as to how this should work. And with what justification. Each of the 50 states determines the procedures for the election and counting itself. In order to go to court, Trump's lawyers would have to prove a violation of the respective rules. As a rule, this only works after the official result has been announced in the state. An interruption of the count is not likely to be achieved in this way.
The requirements in three contested states in the northeast are different. In Michigan, only votes that arrive on or before election day are counted. Because of the high number, the evaluation can take a day or two. In the course of Wednesday evening, Biden took the lead with around 50,000 votes after a count of 94 percent. Previously, Trump led. The change was mainly due to the counting of the postal votes.
[The election remains exciting, because of the large number of postal votes, even in the days after election day. Until November 8th Twenty / Twenty, our newsletter for the US election, is therefore published daily. You can register here for free.]
In Pennsylvania, postal ballot papers may arrive by Friday, November 6th and will be counted if postmarked shows they were posted on election day or earlier. There Trump led on Wednesday evening after a count of 80 percent with around 469,430 votes - 150,000 fewer than in the afternoon. In principle, Biden can also make up for this advantage by counting the postal votes, as more than a million votes are still missing.
In Wisconsin, only votes received on election day or earlier are counted. In many constituencies, the votes cast in person are counted first, followed by the postal votes. An initial lead for Trump turned into a narrow lead for Biden over the course of Wednesday after 98 percent of the votes were counted. However, the Trump camp has already announced that Wisconson will require a recount. If the election results are tight, the losing party also has a legal claim to it.
How could Trump challenge the results?
Trump had already applied to the court a few days ago not to consider the postal votes received in Pennsylvania after election day. The Supreme Court rejected the urgent motion on the grounds that it could still be decided later. Election observers from both camps and their lawyers were present in many states in order to record irregularities early and, if necessary, to appeal. However, the formal requirements for correct postal voting are not known to all voters, as many used this form of voting for the first time in 2020 due to the corona crisis.
What are Trump's legal chances?
The completed ballot paper must be put in an envelope provided for this purpose; and this must be put in another proposal with a statement of who filled out the ballot. If this is not followed, the vote can be counted as invalid. Experts reckoned that some voters did not correctly meet these requirements.
The closer the gap between the votes for Biden and Trump, the higher the likelihood that results will be challenged and recounts requested. First of all, such applications must be made in the respective state. The proceedings can then go through the instances to the Supreme Court.
Democrats regularly warn that there is now a stable conservative majority in the Supreme Court after Donald Trump appointed a total of three new judges during his tenure. Just recently, Trump-nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate. Other observers say that constitutional judges do not judge according to ideological preferences, but on the basis of the law and the constitution.
Are there any signals from Biden to contest the result?
No. Should Biden lose the election after all votes have been counted, he should probably recognize the result. Biden's campaign team, like Trump's team, has put together a veritable army of lawyers. The aim is not so much to challenge the election itself, but to prepare legally to challenge the election, as well as to be able to respond to the many lawsuits that Trump's campaign team brought against postal voting regulations in the states before the election.
Does Trump also have political options to still win the election?
Probably not. In the run-up to the election, the following option was speculated: The constitution does not actually stipulate the way in which the parliaments of the states determine the electoral men and women. It has been the tradition that states hold general elections and then elect the electorate to the winner according to the “winner takes all” principle (exceptions are Maine and Nebraska, which split the electorate between the candidates). In theory, however, you are free to determine it differently - for example by voting in parliament. In theory, the parliament of a state in which there is a Republican majority could say: We do not recognize the general election and we nominate the electorate. It would be questionable whether it would last - especially if it was declared retrospectively. In Pennsylvania, for example, Republicans have a majority in parliament, but the governor is a Democrat. The prerequisite for such a foul would also be that Trump had enough support for it in his own party.
How great is the risk of unrest?
In the night from Tuesday to Wednesday there were demonstrations in several cities. These remained mostly peaceful, but in some cases there were clashes with the police and arrests. Demonstrations took place in Washington D.C., Portland, Chicago and Raleigh, North Carolina, among others. How the situation will develop - whether Trump's supporters will take to the streets in the event of a defeat and where is difficult to predict. He asked them to do so - but on election day it was comparatively peaceful.
[Explanation of our numbers for the US election: When making election decisions in the individual states, the US media use different calculation models before they publish a call, i.e. attribute the state's electorate to a candidate. Depending on the source to which the current graphics and maps refer, the figures also differ in the German media. At Tagesspiegel we use information from the German press agency dpa for our live data, which in turn is based on figures from the US broadcaster CNN.]
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