Trust Index: Do lawsuits allege widespread voter fraud?

Initial lawsuits focused on procedural matters

President Donald Trump, his lawyers and some of his allies have repeatedly claimed widespread voter fraud illegally tilted last week’s election in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden.

ORLANDO, Fla. – President Donald Trump, his lawyers and some of his allies have repeatedly claimed widespread voter fraud illegally tilted last week’s election in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden.

But nearly one week after the polls closed, no attorney had yet made such bold accusations in a formal court filing.

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Since election-related lawsuits can be expensive to pursue, with attorneys who knowingly file frivolous lawsuits risking sanctions by the courts, many plaintiffs try to choose their legal battles wisely.

During a Saturday morning news conference outside a Philadelphia landscaping company, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said he has evidence that votes had been illegally cast in the name of dead people, including by someone using the name of actor Will Smith’s late father.

“I don’t know how he votes because his vote is secret,” said Giuliani, who had not filed a lawsuit alleging voter fraud by late Monday. “In Philadelphia they keep the votes of dead people secret.”

Allegations of voters using dead peoples' names have surfaced for decades, including after the 1960 election that delivered John F. Kennedy the presidency over Richard Nixon.

“Usually these are mistakes,” said News 6 political analyst Jim Clark. “You’ll have a Bob Jones, Jr. who lives in the house his father lived in, Bob Jones, Sr. And (people) get them confused.”

Nevada’s former attorney general, Adam Laxalt, claimed Sunday that more than 3,000 registered voters in that state might actually live outside Nevada.

But Laxalt did not indicate how many of those voters might be military members stationed elsewhere or out-of-state college students who could legally cast votes in their Nevada hometowns.

“Here at the University of Central Florida, we have many students who live here on campus but are still registered to vote in their home counties in Florida or in other states,” said Clark, who is a UCF history professor. “It doesn’t mean there is anything illegal about this.”

Should Trump’s lawyers eventually present proof of voter fraud, Clark believes judges will be reluctant to intervene.

“Even if you show that there was some sort of suspicious activity, that’s not enough to get an election overturned,” Clark said. “You have to show it made a difference.”

Biden leads Trump by a total of more than 120,000 votes in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin.

“(Trump) would have to find 120,000 votes of fraud, or a mistake, or whatever in four or five states,” Clark said. “That’s impossible.”

To date, litigation has been mostly focused on procedural matters, such as the Trump campaign’s lawsuit in Pennsylvania successfully getting poll watchers a few feet closer to vote counting.

Other lawsuits are attempting to block mail-in ballots that arrived after polls closed on Election Day.

But when it comes to accusations of widespread voter fraud, News 6 gives the claim “Be Careful” on the Trust Index since, at the time of this publication, no attorney has formally made such claims in a lawsuit.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades. Mike joined News 6 just as Florida officials began counting hanging chads in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. Since then, he has covered some of the biggest news events in Central Florida.