US Election 2020

US Election 2020: why are Trump’s legal challenges continuing despite Georgia being certified for Biden?

The President's lawsuits in Arizona and Pennsylvania have been rejected but his legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, have requested another recount in Georgia.

US Election 2020: why are Trump’s legal challenges continuing despite Georgia being certified for Biden?
MANDEL NGAN AFP

The legal team representing President Donald Trump have announced that are requesting another recount of all votes cast in Georgia, despite the state’s 16 Electoral College votes having already been certified for Joe Biden. President-elect Biden secured a winning margin of 0.2 percentage points, within the 0.5 threshold that allows for a recount.

The state has already carried out a full recount and audit of all five million votes that were cast in the state, with very little discrepancy found when compared to the original count. As such, there is almost no chance that the result will turn in the President’s favour, so why is he allowed to continue to contest the result?

How is President Trump able to continue to appeal the result?

A third counting of the votes may seem excessive, but it is allowed for in the electoral laws of Georgia. Individual states are allowed to enforce their own rules when it comes to elections so it is not unusual to see quirks like this.

The first recount was triggered because the margin was below 0.5 percentage points, meaning that the Trump campaign would not have to foot the $3 million bill. Instead it falls on the state to cover the cost, even though the recount did not change the result. Following that the election result was certified on Friday, but Georgia law allows two business days for a recount to be requested. As the margin was again below 0.5%, the state will again be paying for it.

In their statement announcing a second recount, the Trump campaign made further demands:

"We are focused on ensuring that every aspect of Georgia State Law and the U.S. Constitution are followed so that every legal vote is counted. President Trump and his campaign continue to insist on an honest recount in Georgia, which has to include signature matching and other vital safeguards.”

What is the point of another recount?

The Trump campaign’s legal team have now twice called for a recount in a state which he lost by over 12,000 votes. Never in American history has a recount produced a turnaround anywhere near that size, never mind a second recount. With this in mind, some have suggested that it is little more than a time-wasting ploy form the President.

Jonathan Diaz, campaign law expert and CNN contributor, has stated that "no recount is going to change" the fact that Biden won more votes than Trump did in Georgia. Diaz continues: "There's no real point in them doing so, other than to continue to drag out this process and cause further delays… It is a time of nonsense.”

Aside from the opportunity to further delay the presidential transition, there may also be a more calculated reason for the Republican’s to draw focus to their unfounded claims of electoral fraud in Georgia. Control of the Senate rests in the two Georgia run-off races which will be held on 5 January. The Republicans must win at least one to avoid losing control of the Upper House, which would give the Democrats complete control of the legislature.

Scott Jennings, Republican strategist and close advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said recently: “I can’t think of a better way for [Trump] to get revenge on Democrats than to get those two seats.” Trump will hope that his persistent allegations can energise his supporters and drive up turnout in what will be a fiercely competitive race, and prevent another victory for the Democrats.