Two different cases, but two similar outcomes for supporters of Donald Trump. In both Nevada and Minnesota, election challenges met stern dismissals late in the afternoon. The Nevada case will be by far the most problematic for Team Trump, as this case didn’t get dismissed on technical issues. They got a full hearing of their claims of fraud — and the judge ruled that they didn’t provide evidence for any of it:
A Nevada judge has denied a lawsuit spearheaded by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign seeking to toss the results of the state’s presidential vote.
District Judge James T. Russell denied the contest with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought back before the court.
“The contestants failed to meet their burden to provide credible and relevant evidence to substantiate any of the grounds set forth in [state law] to contest the November 3, 2020 general election,” the order states.
The complaint had sought to either move Nevada’s presidential electors to Trump or to find the results of the presidential election void.
Some of the courtroom losses suffered by Team Trump thus far have been on technical grounds — standing, laches, and so on. That gives the attorneys paths for appeal and demands to hear out the factual bases for their claims of fraud. In today’s hearing, however, the Trump electors who filed the lawsuit had their full day in court. They presented their affidavits, their witnesses, and their evidence.
In his ruling, Russell repeatedly ruled that their evidence was insufficient or unconvincing. And as for their experts … well …
Russell ruled that the Trump elector plaintiffs never proved a single element of their case, and at least one of their experts — Gessler — admitted he’d seen no fraud in the election. The plaintiffs failed to provide any evidence at all for most of their claims, except for conjecture and hearsay, as Russell repeatedly notes in his ruling. All they did, it seems, was to collect affidavits and present them without any investigation or corroboration, Russell found. He then stuck the plaintiffs with the court costs for the lawsuit and dismissed the case with prejudice.
The Trump team has said that they expect to lose cases in the beginning and want to force appeals to the Supreme Court. This, however, presents a big problem for that strategy. It’s one thing to lose on interpretations of the law, but it’s another to have a district court gut your factual claims. Appellate courts exist to deal with the former but not the latter. They will defer in almost all cases to the initial fact-finding court. Team Trump can appeal, but Russell just made appeals basically moot by finding no factual basis at all for the challenge in the first place.
That raises questions about similar claims made by similar “experts” in other states being challenged by Team Trump. Nevada was one of their focus states for overturning the election results. If the factual basis was that bad in Nevada, and proved thin in Pennsylvania, it’s probably not much better in Georgia or Wisconsin either.
In Minnesota, the state supreme court shot down a recount demand on the basis of law rather than on factual findings. But the court also found errors in the filing which apparently made their attempt moot:
In a five-page order rejecting the case, Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea cited the late filing of the petition — just hours before the state canvassing board met to certify the election’s results on Nov. 24 — and errors in the manner in which the case was brought. …
In dismissing the petition, Gildea pointed out that while one allegation focused on how county officials conducted postelection audits, the petitioners failed to serve any such officials with a copy of their petition as required.
The GOP petition pointed to vote count anomalies and suggestions that voting machines could have been tampered with, but did not provide evidence of tampering. The petitioners argued that “our voting system has crashed in many areas of the state.”
Perhaps it will be possible to push this into federal court, but it’s tough to see how. If they didn’t have evidence of tampering, it seems unlikely that the Supreme Court will take an interest in a Minnesota election that wasn’t at all close in the first place.