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Trump and his allies filed more than 40 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results. All of them failed.

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/22/2021 jshamsian@insider.com (Jacob Shamsian,Sonam Sheth)
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump. Win McNamee/Getty Images © Getty President Donald Trump. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Trump and allies filed dozens of lawsuits in an effort to contest the results of the 2020 election.
  • His campaign filed lawsuits and motions to intervene in cases in several swing states.
  • They've notched zero victories.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

After losing the 2020 election to a man he spent months hammering as corrupt, doddering, and mentally deficient, President Donald Trump went on the offense, spreading lies and conspiracy theories about a "rigged" election marred by "major fraud" from Democrats.

Before the Capitol insurrection on January 6, Trump's claims alternated between demanding that some states stop counting ballots, which he didn't have the power to do, and saying that others should keep counting, which they were doing anyway.

To that end, the Trump campaign, Republican allies, and Trump himself had mounted at least 42 legal challenges since Election Day.

They've won zero. President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20.

The lawsuits argued that states and counties violated election laws, playing into Trump's political strategy to discredit the results of the 2020 election. The House impeached him a second time in January, charging him with inciting an insurrection, and the Senate acquitted him on February 13.

Republicans filed the lawsuits in local, state, and federal courts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania - all states that Biden won. They also filed direct appeals to the Supreme Court, all of which also failed.

The Trump campaign initially had a single win, when a Pennsylvania judge ruled on November 12 that first-time voters were supposed to confirm their IDs with county boards of election by November 9, rather than November 12. The decision opened the door to disqualify the ballots of people who didn't verify their IDs in time. But the state Supreme Court later overturned that decision.

Here's what happened with all of Trump's election lawsuits.

Here's a list of the lawsuits and where they stand

Direct appeals to the Supreme Court - 3 losses

  • Several Republican politicians, led by Rep. Mike Kelly, asked the US Supreme Court to block the certification of Pennsylvania's election results. The court turned down the case.
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin in the US Supreme Court seeking to overturn their election results. The Supreme Court rejected the case.
  • The Trump campaign asked the US Supreme Court to overturn three decisions from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over various technical rules regarding absentee and mail-in ballots. The court rejected the case on February 22, declaring it moot.

Pennsylvania - 13 losses

Nevada - 4 losses

  • The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit requesting that ballots stop being counted in the state over concerns about signature-matching technology and election observers' claims that they weren't being allowed to watch ballots being processed closely enough. The Nevada Supreme Court denied the request.
  • The Trump campaign and the RNC filed a lawsuit in state court asking to stop ballot counting in Clark County - a heavily Democratic area - until GOP officials could observe the process. A district judge rejected the request on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not have evidence to back up their allegations. Republicans appealed the case to the Nevada Supreme Court, which said on November 5 that the campaign and Republican officials had reached a settlement that allowed expanded ballot observation. They later withdrew the case.
  • A group of Republicans dropped a lawsuit in Clark County challenging mail-in ballots, including those sent by members of the military.
  • The Trump campaign filed a different lawsuit in Carson City District Court alleging multiple irregularities that the campaign claimed, without providing specific evidence, would be enough to overturn the election results in Nevada and flip the state to Trump. It failed.

Georgia - 5 losses

Michigan - 5 losses

Arizona - 4 losses

  • The Trump campaign joined a lawsuit brought by two Republicans in Maricopa County claiming that a substantial number of GOP ballots were invalidated because voters used Sharpies to fill in their choices. There is no evidence that using Sharpies leads to issues with scanning ballots, and, in fact, officials have said using Sharpies is preferred. The Post also reported that the Maricopa County attorney's office said no ballots were rejected and that if they are, voters have an opportunity to cast another one. A Republican-aligned group abandoned the legal fight after Maricopa County officials challenged the factual basis for the lawsuit, and the Trump campaign lost the fight soon afterward.
  • The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in state court alleging that Maricopa County was improperly rejecting ballots cast by some voters. The lawsuit was dismissed after an audit found no problems with the votes.
  • Arizona's Supreme Court unanimously rejected a case from the state GOP chair Kelli Ward, saying the facts she presented were incorrect and that she "fails to present any evidence of misconduct."
  • Powell filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn election results as well, based on a conspiracy theory about voting machines used in the state. A judge dismissed the case.

Wisconsin - 7 losses

New Mexico - one loss

  • The Trump campaign sued the state over what it claims was the illegal use of ballot drop boxes after the state had already certified its results and sent them to the Electoral College. It dropped the claim in January.

Key cases and Supreme Court rulings before Election Day

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court ruled that election officials could receive mail-in ballots until November 6 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. Republicans requested an immediate stay from the US Supreme Court that would have blocked the state Supreme Court's ruling.

But the US Supreme Court was deadlocked at 4-4, leaving the lower court's ruling in place. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito voted to grant Republicans' request, while Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to participate in the case "because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties' filings," the court said in a statement. However, Barrett has not recused herself, meaning she could cast a decisive fifth vote when the Supreme Court takes up the case again.

North Carolina

In a similar case brought by Republicans in North Carolina, the Supreme Court ruled that ballots received up to nine days after November 3 could be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

The decision came after the Trump campaign and Republicans asked in two separate cases for the high court to put back in place a June statute from the state's Republican-controlled Legislature that would have allowed ballots to be counted only if they were received up to three days - not nine - after Election Day.

Five justices - Roberts, Kavanaugh, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor - ruled against reinstating the statute. Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas dissented, while Barrett did not participate in the North Carolina case.

Wisconsin

Republicans notched a victory in a case involving the deadline to receive ballots in Wisconsin. The US Supreme Court ruled against reviving an appeals court decision that would have allowed election officials to receive absentee ballots up to six days after Election Day.

The court's five conservative justices - Roberts, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Alito - ruled against reviving the lower court's ruling, while the three liberals - Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor - dissented.

The Wisconsin case made headlines because of Kavanaugh's and Kagan's dueling opinions.

Kavanaugh, a Trump-appointed justice who was confirmed to the high court in 2018, wrote in a concurring opinion that all ballots should be received by Election Day.

"Those States want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election," he wrote. "And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter."

Kagan fired back in a sharp dissent, taking issue with Kavanaugh's assertion that the arrival of absentee ballots after Election Day could "flip" the results of the race.

"Justice Kavanaugh alleges that 'suspicions of impropriety' will result if 'absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election,'" she wrote. "But there are no results to 'flip' until all valid votes are counted. And nothing could be more 'suspicio[us]' or 'improp[er]' than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night. To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process."

Texas

A federal court in Texas and the state's Supreme Court denied two Republican requests to throw out nearly 130,000 ballots that were cast via drive-thru polling sites in Harris County, one of Texas' most heavily Democratic areas.

The Texas Supreme Court rejected a request from Republican candidates and activists to toss the ballots. US District Judge Andrew Hanen, appointed by President George W. Bush, reached the same conclusion and denied the second request from GOP candidates and a right-wing radio host.

Hanen ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to sue and ask that ballots that were legally cast be discounted. However, he ordered the county to set aside the 127,000 ballots in case an appeals court disagreed with him and ultimately threw those votes out.

This article has been updated.

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