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Election security officials have said the 2020 presidential election was secure and post-election audits in various states found no evidence of widespread fraud.
Post-election lawsuits were thrown out for jurisdictional or procedural reasons, but several judges also said the Trump campaign’s allegations of election fraud lacked sufficient proof.
A group of prominent conservatives examined 64 cases brought by Trump and his allies and found that 30 included a hearing on the case’s merits. Trump and his allies won only one case, and it involved too few votes to impact the results, the group found.
Former President Donald Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden in November 2020. Unwilling to accept that defeat, the Trump campaign and its allies took their grievances to the courts — an ultimately unsuccessful effort to overturn the results.
Conservatives filed a flood of lawsuits alleging there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election that robbed Trump of victory. At nearly every turn, judges across the country rejected such lawsuits for a variety of reasons, including lack of sufficient evidence to support the claims of fraud.
Nearly two years later, some social media users continue to claim that the courts refused to even consider such evidence.
"It’s not that there is no evidence the election was stolen, but that no court had the guts to hear the evidence," read an image posted Oct. 25 on Instagram. "They dismissed the cases, not the evidence. They refused to look at it, because the price of getting involved was too high. This is how evil destroys a republic."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Election security officials — including those in Trump’s own administration — have said the 2020 election was secure. When fraud occurred it was isolated and did not change the results. There is no evidence of widespread fraud.
Many post-election lawsuits were thrown out for jurisdictional or procedural reasons, but several judges also noted that the allegations of fraud lacked proof.
(Screenshot from Instagram.)
Courts operate according to law, said Richard Pildes, a New York University law professor.
"Sometimes the law is that the person trying to bring a claim doesn’t have any legal right to do so, or that a claim that should have been brought before the election cannot be brought after the election, when everyone has voted already," Pildes said. "That’s not because courts lack the ‘courage’ to address these cases on the merits. It’s because courts are following the law about what constitutes a valid legal claim."
News reports and court documents show that some of the judges who dismissed Trump supporters’ post-election lawsuits considered what the plaintiffs presented as their evidence and still dismissed those challenges.
In a number of cases, the courts rejected claims "on the merits as well," Pildes said.
In Nevada, Trump supporters sued to challenge the state’s election results and seeking an order from the court declaring Trump the winner or declaring Biden’s victory "null and void."
Dismissing the lawsuit on Dec. 4, 2020, District Court James T. Russell wrote that the people behind it failed "to provide credible and relevant evidence" to contest the Nov. 3, 2020 election in accordance with Nevada laws.
Trump allies "did not prove under any standard of proof that illegal votes were cast and counted or legal votes were not counted at all, due to voter fraud," Russell wrote. The contestants failed to prove that illegal votes by ineligible or deceased voters were cast and counted, he wrote.
Russell also noted that it reached its ruling "having considered, without limitation, all evidence submitted to the court."
"Charges of unfairness are serious," wrote Judge Stephanos Bibas, who was appointed by Trump. "But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here."
Later in the ruling, Bibas continued: "The campaign’s claims have no merit. The number of ballots it specifically challenges is far smaller than the roughly 81,000-vote margin of victory. And it never claims fraud or that any votes were cast by illegal voters."
Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga. Powell and eight other lawyers allied with former President Donald Trump were ordered Dec. 2, 2021, to pay Detroit and Michigan $175,000 in sanctions for abusing the court system with a sham lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results. (AP)
A group of conservatives that included former U.S. senators, Republican lawyers and retired federal judges, examined 64 cases brought by Trump and his supporters and authored a report titled, "Lost, not stolen: The conservative case that Trump lost and Biden won the 2020 presidential election."
Of 64 cases, the group found:
20 were dismissed before hearings on the merits,
14 were voluntarily dismissed by Trump and his allies before hearings on the merits,
And 30 cases included hearings on the merits.
Trump and his supporters won only one Pennsylvania case "involving far too few votes to overturn the results," the group of conservatives wrote.
Trump and his supporters were given forums to prove their claims of fraud, the group concluded. And yet, "those efforts failed because of a lack of evidence and not because of erroneous rulings or unfair judges."
An Instagram post claimed: "It’s not that there is no evidence the election was stolen, but that no court had the guts to hear the evidence. They dismissed the cases, not the evidence."
Although a number of lawsuits challenging the 2020 election’s results were dismissed for procedural or jurisdictional reasons, it’s inaccurate to say that judges refused to review the evidence of alleged fraud. Court records show that some judges dismissed cases after reviewing the evidence and determining it did not sufficiently prove election fraud.
We rate this claim False.
Instagram post, Oct. 25, 2022
Email interview with Richard Pildes, New York University law professor, Oct. 27, 2022
PolitiFact, Donald Trump has lost dozens of election lawsuits. Here’s why, Dec. 20, 2020
PolitiFact, Joe Biden is right that more than 60 of Trump’s election lawsuits lacked merit, Jan. 8, 2021
PolitiFact, Trump did not win two-thirds of election lawsuits ‘where merits considered,’ Feb. 9, 2021
PolitiFact, The facts of a fair US election have only gotten stronger since Capitol attack, Jan. 6, 2022
The Washington Post, ‘The last wall’: How dozens of judges across the political spectrum rejected Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, Dec. 12, 2020
The Associated Press, Trump thought courts were key to winning. Judges disagreed, Dec. 8, 2020
The New York Times, A federal appeals court denies the Trump campaign’s challenge to a lower court loss on certifying Pennsylvania’s vote, Nov. 27, 2020
USCourts.gov, Ruling on case No. 20-3371, accessed Oct. 27, 2022
The Washington Post, Read the opinion: Judge dismisses Sidney Powell bid to overturn Biden win in Wisconsin, Dec. 10, 2020
The Washington Post, Read the opinion: Judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit challenging election results in Nevada, Dec. 11, 2020
Bridge Michigan, U.S. judge rejects pro-Trump election suit as ‘speculation and conjecture,’ Dec. 7, 2020
Email exchange with Rebecca Green, a law professor at the College of William and Mary and co-director of the election law program, Oct. 27, 2022
Lost, Not Stolen, Lost, Not Stolen: The conservative case that Trump lost and Biden won the 2020 presidential election, published July 2022
CNN, Prominent conservatives issue report rebutting Trump election claims, July 14, 2022
The Associated Press, Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud, June 28, 2022
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