Election lawsuits: did courts review “evidence” or not?

This question has plagued me throughout the election lawsuits debacle. I know that what Trump and his lawyers are calling “evidence” of fraud amount to signed affidavits, hearsay, rumors, and feelings. And I know that at least 58 of these cases have been denied or dismissed at this point.

But even if the evidence doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, one assumes that the lawyers do have the affidavits, or lists of incidents that they think warrant their suit.

My question: have any of the judges reviewed this information or not? When they call the claims “baseless,” does that mean they reviewed the supposed “evidence” and found it lacking, or did they reject the claims without even looking at that info? How does this work?

It depends.

The most recent slap-down by the SCotUS was because Texas has no say in how Pennsylvania/Michigan/Wisconsin/Georgia conduct elections, therefore, no basis to sue. So it didn’t matter what evidence did or didn’t exist, Texas couldn’t bring suit.

In other cases where there is standing to bring a case to court the evidence is looked at. Apparently so far it’s been found wanting. I think there might have been 2 cases (out of more than 50 at this point) where some discrepancies were found, but that’s it.

That “evidence” seems to be more for public consumption than the courts.

AFAIK, none of the major lawsuits allege fraud*. It is worth nothing that Trump’s intervening brief to the Supreme Court said specifically that they had found no “dectectable fraud”, instead they alleged that the “unconstitutional” state election rules made the alleged fraud undetectable…OK…

The crux of the “constitutional” legal challenges seem to rest on a clause in the Constitution saying that state legislatures are responsible for selecting the manner by which the state appoints their electors.

The Trump lawyers have seized on this clause as meaning that state legislatures must specifically approve, via legislation, every detail of election procedure and every piece of guidance. A court yesterday, ruling on the merits of the case as requested by Trump, decided that interpretation was ridiculous and the clause simply means that state legislatures decide something to the effect of “We are going to choose our electors via popular vote.”

For example, the Wisconsin legislature created and sanctioned a bipartisan election board to interpret the election law and issue guidance, for example, clarifying absentee ballot procedures. The Trump campaign was trying to argue that the guidance issued by this board was unconstitutional because it was not directly voted on by their legislature.

Please note that this is not new, this type of election board has been common everywhere for forever. The specific arguments the Trump lawyers make go something like this.

Election officials contacted people who failed to put their full address on their absentee ballot and worked with them to fix their ballots instead of just throwing those ballots away. There is nothing in state law that empowers them to do that so those votes are “illegal” and should be thrown out.

To which the response is

There is nothing specific in state law regarding how absentee ballots with incomplete addresses should be handled, period - and there never has been. Our legislature covered all those situations by creating the election board to adjudicate those issues, which is what happened in this election.

The “allegations of fraud” that the Trump campaign bandies about were collected by their in-house “voter fraud” hotline as well as outside right wing organizations like Project Veritas. None of these allegations were reported to official sources, like election officials or police at the time they occurred.

The specific “fraud” allegations all looked like -

Biden got more votes in my county even though everyone I know voted for Trump and I find that suspicious.

At midnight, I saw several people bringing in large unmarked boxes into the voting center and I think they may have been illegal ballots ( it turned out it was takeout meal delivery)

I saw a Biden Harris bus pull up to the voting center and dozens of workers in Biden Harris shirts got out. They pulled boxes of empty ballots out of the bus, sat on the sidewalk and began filling them out for Biden, then they stuffed them in a big bag and took them into the voting center.

They had pages and pages of this stuff, and it was all stupid. Plus their witnesses behaved in a manner consistent with people who believed they would be immune from prosecution for perjury, probably because of public statements the President has made about protecting voter fraud whistleblowers.

And a quick word about Georgia and all the chatter about signature verification and mismatch, etc.

It used to be, in Georgia, if someone decided the signature on your ballot didn’t match your signature on file, they would just throw your ballot away. It’s turns out that this was happening disproportionately in certain neighborhoods and large numbers of ballots cast by young and minority voters were being discarded.

This practice was challenged and a settlement was reached allowing election officials to contact voters and give them an opportunity to confirm their identity rather than just wordlessly tossing their ballots. This settlement is the root of all the GA signature mismatch/voter fraud allegations.

  • None of the MAJOR lawsuits explicitly alleged fraud, but there are dozens of crackpot lawsuits — well, they’re all crackpot but some are crazier than others- and some of those allege fraud, as well as other stuff, like the involvement of COVID infected tigers at the Bronx Zoo.

ETA- as a more direct response to the question, a Wisconsin court yesterday found Trump had standing and ruled on the merits, finding there were none.

Or in some cases, they’ve pounced on the rules because they were passed as legislation, including the governor’s decision to sign or veto, because any involvement by the governor means that it’s not “decided by the legislature” any more.

Not just that, but in at least one case (though this likely extends to many others) Giuliani told the judge, explicitly, that this wasn’t a fraud case. That’s been common throughout all this. They go around doing press conferences alleging fraud or making outright accusations but when inside the courtroom, under oath, risking fines and being disbarred for bringing frivolous cases, they have to tell the judge it’s not about fraud, their poll workers were allowed to watch, they don’t have any evidence etc.

IOW, they’re lying to the public (and Trump) but they’re aware they can’t do that to the judge so the cases get tossed out.

Then, a few weeks back they held some type of hearings where all this evidence was finally brought to light. What many people didn’t understand is that a bunch of people sitting around talking, not in a courtroom, without a judge present and not under oath isn’t a hearing. It’s just a bunch of people sitting around talking.


  1. These elections rules are unconstitutional; and
  2. Unconstitutional election rules render invalid the results from elections held under them; and
  3. There were enough of these elections rules in place during the 2016 election to drop Trump’s EC victory below 270 votes;

then does it follow that:

  1. His presidency was unconstitutional; and
  2. All his executive orders, cabinet appointments, judicial nominations, and signatures on bills are invalid?

Trying to follow the logic here.

[Adam Savage] Well, there’s your problem! [/AS]

I mean, I’m almost willing to grant them their case, if we get to see it through.

Not to defend Trump here, but his reasoning for this has already been that he won in 2016 and if Hillary didn’t want to explore her legal options, that’s her problem, not his.

ETA: Here’s the exact line
“Justice Rebecca Dallet, like Karofsky another liberal justice, questioned why Trump didn’t raise his same concerns about the absentee ballot process in the 2016 election that he won in Wisconsin. Troupis said Trump was not an aggrieved party that year.”
From here.

Just want to add (as I did in one of the other threads) that the judge who made this ruling was a Trump appointee, so presumably not a liberal activist judge bent on throwing Trump out of the White House.

From the ruling:

This court allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits. In his reply brief, plaintiff ‘asks that the Rule of Law be followed.’ It has been.

Thanks everyone for the responses. The first one by Broomstick was the most in line with what I’m getting at here, but all of it has been edifying.

So why have Trumpers claimed that the judges are dismissing these cases without looking at the evidence? I know they’re not good with facts, but is there at least some basis for that claim?

So how are all these signed affidavits not evidence? Do materials submitted as evidence have to pass some kind of test before a judge will even allow a case to move forward? I guess I’ve always assumed (unconsciously) that since the point of a court case is to examine evidence, that the evidence doesn’t have to be proved to be of value until presented at trial.

But it sounds like there’s some preliminary stage where the judge gets to review the evidence and decide whether the case will move forward, and that lawyers can face punishment at that stage for submitting “evidence” that doesn’t meet certain criteria?

Thank you for this. I thought I’d been following this thing very closely, but you’ve got details I hadn’t seen. Where do you get I’m your news and analysis?

Why can’t they be sanctioned by the bar associations for lying to the public, well, publicly?

The short version of why all these seemingly rock solid cases fall apart in the courtroom is because they’re lying to you but not the judge.

I really don’t have a good grasp on court procedure, but that’s my basic understanding. At some preliminary stage of any court case, the lawyer needs to prove that their case has merit. This is the point at which they risk getting fined or disbarred for filing a frivolous lawsuit. And, it’s my understanding that they don’t even need a strong case, they just need something. It would be like if I sued you for damaging my car, but when the judge asked for pictures of the damage or a repair bill, I told her that my car hasn’t actually been damaged. We saw this a while back with the Trump side suing one of the states because they didn’t allow poll watchers into the room where they were counting ballots. But then, when asked, they admitted that poll watchers were, in fact, allowed into the room.
The whole thing was entirely for show. They knew they weren’t going to win. It’s 100% to create distrust in the system.

Is it illegal for a lawyer to lie to the public? Honest question. I really don’t know. I wouldn’t think it would be. I know in one of these cases the judge, while throwing it out, even said that it’s one thing to put on a show for the cameras, but when you’re in the courtroom you have to bring evidence.
While very quickly trying to find the judge’s quote, I found another article that started off by saying that you should be watching what the attorneys do, not what they say.
Edit: Just to come back to this. If I was now planning to sue YOU for damaging my car, the car that was never damaged, would it be illegal for my lawyer to put out a press release or go on the news and tell the world how I have mountains of evidence against you?
And, if it is, do you think he’d do it anyway as long as I promised to pay him, say, $20,000 a day?

Mostly it’s a matter of ignoring the noise and fully recognizing what you are dealing with, in this case a massive coordinated disinformation campaign.

The media doesn’t handle this type of disinformation campaign well, it turns into a “both sides” debate … was there any election fraud? Does Hydroxychloroquine work? …drumming up a controversy where there is none.

First hand sources are the most reliable sources in these situations. I read every court document, every filing and response and decision. If I didn’t understand a section, I read it more carefully until I did. Then I researched beyond that, but in a focused way - looking for answers to specific questions like “What do they mean when they talk about “friendly settlements” that allegedly weakened election security?”

Please be aware that there is NOTHING there. What you are seeing is the President and his cronies throwing smoke bombs everywhere, them running around screaming “With all this smoke, there must be a fire somewhere, even if we can’t find it!”

Election security is important, just like internet security. But a very large majority of people that enter an incorrect password while trying to access their bank account aren’t hackers, just like most people that make a mistake on their ballot aren’t committing fraud. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

So, the Wisconsin case that was just rejected over the weekend did include a review of the merits of the case, i.e., the fraud allegations. And the Trump side came up with nothing. There was nothing they could point to.

The judge was going to give them a chance to argue the case on the merits, and not just standing or procedures. And sure enough, they had nothing.

If that’s the case, then, couldn’t a citizen affected by one of his executive orders have standing to sue to overturn the order, under the same legal theory he’s propounding now?

I can’t decide if this is very stupid of them or very clever. Raise a case, present zero evidence, then loudly complain “They didn’t even look at any evidence!” and it looks to enthusiastic uncritical onlookers as though you are telling the truth.

Have you ever watched Judge Judy or The People’s Court? Those judges, mere entertainment TV judges, consistently refuse to accept affidavits, even though small claims courts are less procedurally strict than higher courts.
Usually they will say they can’t cross-examine an affidavit and they find it suspicious that the person that signed the affidavit was unwilling to testify in person.

There is reason for that. A postal worker named Richard Hopkins made the claim that he overheard his supervisors instructing employees to back date ballots received after Election Day. He was interviewed by a postal inspector ( don’t laugh, they handle most federal fraud cases and they are a kick-ass law enforcement agency) and an FBI agent. A tape of the interview was released. Because I love first-hand sources, I listened to the whole thing.

The agents determined that the guy didn’t overhear anything but the words “Most on the third a few on fourth” in the “incriminating conversation” he overheard. He was mostly just suspicious because one of his supervisors, whom he didn’t like, kept telling the mail carriers prior to Election Day to make sure they picked up ever vote because the votes were important, every vote counts. And this cheerleading annoyed him and he found it suspicious. Period.

(Disclosure - Hopkins recanted this recant after the outside organization that solicited his original statement crowdfunded 250,000 bucks for him,but the tape of his recant was pretty conclusive)

This highlights the problem with the way these affidavits were obtained. These people did not witness election fraud and notify officials or call police. Instead, they responded to advertisements put forth by the losing candidate ( and organizations supporting the losing candidates ) inviting the public to share their stories of fraud in furtherance of the goal of overturning the election. Plus, the fact that sone organizations have been crowdfunding large sums of money for these whistleblowers makes their testimony even more suspect.

Plus, the last problem is the actual content of the affidavits. They fall into a couple of different categories.

Probably true but so what

Poll watchers complaining that although they didn’t know any Biden voters they saw way more ballots for Biden than Trump so they found that suspicious.

You saw something but in analysis, you misunderstood.

People claiming deliveries of food to the processing centers contained ballots. People claiming certain steps, like signature verification, were skipped when they had actually been performed in another step of the process. Misunderstanding of how poll watchers worked. You get one from each party at each counting table, you can’t flood a thousand Republicans into the the counting center to harass workers and impede the process once they realized their candidate was losing.

The stories of busloads of identifiable campaign workers filling out ballots on the sidewalk. The election worker that claimed there were no properly registered voters in the poll books and they were all made up on the spot.

No one can honestly say there was NO fraud, and that’s part of why the disinformation campaign has been so successful. 150 million people voted, along the way a couple of idiots tried to vote twice. Apparently someone stole some mail in Nevada - this was a case mentioned in one of the lawsuits, but I had to do further research to find it was general mail theft, unrelated to the election but the stolen mail contained two ballots.
Two people, I think, were caught filling out absentee ballots for parents that requested them but died before they could vote. Ironically, I think those two fraudulent votes were for Trump.