Almost from the moment the election ended, President Trump and his allies have relentlessly attacked the integrity of both the voting and vote counting, a narrative they have sought to advance in nearly 20 lawsuits.
While these suits have alleged systemic fraud in at least five states, the evidence they have offered has been different. At least so far, it has been limited, narrow and, according to several judges and experts, unlikely to affect — let alone to overturn — the outcome of the race.
“The level of evidence they’ve produced is actually very low,” said Kermit Roosevelt, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
“It has a sort of conspiracy theory feeling to it. There are sweeping claims that don’t have a lot of evidence at all and evidence that turns out to be irrelevant.”
Even if you take what is presented as proof in the suits at face value, it speaks to claims made by individual voters and poll observers in a few scattered voting locations across the country. None of the evidence presented so far has the breadth or scope to reverse the relatively large leads amassed by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in any of the key swing states.
Consider the suit filed last week in Nevada, seeking to stop elections officials there from using a vote-counting software that they claimed was illegal. The lawyers based their case against the software on a single sworn statement by a voter named Jill Stokke.
In her statement, Ms Stokke claimed that she had tried to vote on Oct. 28 in Las Vegas, but a poll worker told her that someone had already returned her ballot by mail. Ms Stokke, who is in her 80s, said that she had never signed the mail ballot and claimed — without any proof — that the software had improperly verified its signature as hers.
Earlier this week, two Republican poll challengers filed suit in state court in Michigan, claiming multiple fraud conspiracies in the voting and counting in Detroit. At a hearing on Wednesday, David Kallman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, asked a judge to halt the certification of the ballots in Detroit and laid out evidence for his various accusations.
Much of Mr. Kallman’s evidence was found in an affidavit filed by a local poll worker, Jessy Jacob, who claimed that she had seen other poll workers “coaching voters to vote for Joe Biden.” Ms. Jacob also said that during the count her supervisor had ordered her to change the date on thousands of late-arriving absentee ballots.
But Ms. Jacob’s affidavit was the only one of its kind from Detroit and contained no corroboration of her charges. As lawyers for the Michigan Democratic Party later wrote, her statement was, at best, evidence of “isolated instances of potential misconduct at a single vote tabulation location.”
On Tuesday night, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, appeared on Fox News addressing the question of proof of fraud.
“We keep hearing the drumbeat of where is the evidence,” Ms McEnany said, holding up a thick stack of documents.
The documents, she claimed, were more than 200 pages of “sworn affidavits from real people” about to be filed in yet another case.
That case was filed on Wednesday in a federal court in Michigan and closely mirrored Mr. Kallman’s state court case. But while the Trump campaign had promised “shocking” evidence of misconduct in Detroit, the affidavits Ms. McEnany touted turned out to be largely a grab bag of complaints by Republican poll watchers who felt uncomfortable in Detroit or who said local elections officials had treated them unkindly.
One poll watcher, for example, claimed that workers in Detroit were wearing clothes with Black Lives Matter logos. Another claimed that the public address system the poll workers were using was “distracting.”
A third poll watcher seemed not to like the looks that she was getting. “I felt intimidated by union people who were staring at me,” she said.
Perhaps the strangest — and the least founded — suit so far was filed on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Williamsport, Pa.
The suit was brought by four ordinary citizens — a farmer, a retired pastor, a nurse anesthetist and a corrections officer — who accused state elections officials of cheating during the vote count in several Pennsylvania counties.
Claiming “sufficient evidence” to place in doubt the results of the election, the suit essentially rehashed several arguments that had already been made in previous suits in Pennsylvania. The lawyers who filed it, however, promised something new: to hire an expert who would prove precisely how many “illegal ballots” had been cast through a “sophisticated and groundbreaking” data analysis program.
Lawyers for the state of Pennsylvania immediately ridiculed the idea.
In court papers filed on Wednesday, they dismissed the suit as a group of “unsubstantiated stacked hearsay allegations,” saying it was founded on a “hope that their unidentified expert will analyze data they do not have.”