Trump chal­leng­ing a loss will be tough

Sup­port for Trump has eroded in re­cent weeks

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW YORK: If Don­ald Trump were to chal­lenge the out­come of next month’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, as he has hinted he might, he would face a dif­fi­cult and ex­pen­sive fight, ac­cord­ing to elec­tion at­tor­neys and a re­view of vot­ing laws in key bat­tle­ground states. Trump has said he is wor­ried the Nov 8 elec­tion might be rigged in fa­vor of his op­po­nent, Hil­lary Clin­ton, and in Wed­nes­day’s de­bate he re­fused to say he would accept the out­come. But be­fore any court chal­lenge, Trump prob­a­bly would have to ask for a re­count, said Don­ald Brey, a Repub­li­can elec­tion lawyer in Ohio.

If the cam­paign did not pur­sue out-of­court op­tions first, he said, a judge likely would dis­miss the case. Re­count rules vary from state to state. North Carolina, for ex­am­ple, doesn’t al­low a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to re­quest a re­count at all if one can­di­date has a lead of more than 0.5 per­cent of the to­tal votes cast.

In Wis­con­sin, the chal­leng­ing can­di­date must pay the full ex­pense of a re­count if the vote in dis­pute is more than 0.25 per­cent, and in Colorado if it is more than 0.5 per­cent. That can be ex­pen­sive. Of­fi­cials in one Wis­con­sin vil­lage put the cost of a lo­cal re­count, in which about 9,000 votes were cast ear­lier this year, at nearly $13,000, said Michael Mais­tel­man, a Wis­con­sin elec­tion lawyer who rep­re­sented the un­suc­cess­ful can­di­date.

More than 3 mil­lion peo­ple voted in the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Wis­con­sin. De­cid­ing where to chal­lenge the elec­tion would be com­pli­cated. Trump, who trailed Clin­ton by 7 per­cent­age points na­tion­wide in a Reuters/Ip­sos poll re­leased last week, is fight­ing tight bat­tles in some key states. In Ohio, for ex­am­ple, an av­er­age of ma­jor opin­ion polls re­viewed by the RealClearPol­i­tics web­site found Trump to be lead­ing by less than 1 per­cent­age point. In Iowa, he is lead­ing by nearly 4 per­cent.

Max­i­miz­ing chances

In some other bat­tle­ground states, polls sug­gest sup­port for Trump has eroded in re­cent weeks. Ac­cord­ing to the RealClearPol­i­tics web­site’s poll tally, Clin­ton has sub­stan­tial leads in Vir­ginia, Colorado and Wis­con­sin. She leads Trump by more than 6 per­cent­age points in Pennsylvania, nearly 4 points in Florida and more than two points in North Carolina.

To max­i­mize his chances of over­turn­ing a Clin­ton win, Trump might need to chal­lenge the re­sults in sev­eral states, said Troy McCurry, a for­mer Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee lawyer who was part of the party’s re­count team in 2012. Trump could try to bring a le­gal claim with­out first ask­ing for re­count by al­leg­ing, for in­stance, that an abuse of power by an elec­tion of­fi­cial, said McCurry, who’s law firm rep­re­sented Ted Cruz in the Repub­li­can pri­mary be­fore McCurry joined the prac­tice. But if Trump’s lawyers were un­able to muster spe­cific facts to sup­port that premise, he said, a judge would dis­miss the law­suit.

Any law­suit that with­stood early chal­lenges would face an un­cer­tain fu­ture. With the US Supreme Court split 4-to-4 be­tween lib­eral and con­ser­va­tive jus­tices, state supreme courts or fed­eral ap­peals courts could well make the fi­nal rul­ing in any elec­tion dis­pute. In Pennsylvania, Colorado and Florida, where a ma­jor­ity of both state and fed­eral ap­peals court judges have Demo­cratic af­fil­i­a­tions, Trump might face a more dif­fi­cult road. Mean­while, ap­peals courts in Ohio, Wis­con­sin and Iowa are more heav­ily Repub­li­can.

Ohio elec­tion at­tor­ney Brey, who said he dis­likes but will vote for Trump, be­lieves a chal­lenge in Ohio would be a last-ditch ef­fort for the can­di­date. “Let’s put it this way,” he said. “If Ohio is close, Trump’s al­ready lost.” Trump also might face ob­sta­cles from his own party, at­tor­neys said, be­cause it would be re­luc­tant to chal­lenge re­sults in a state where, say, it lost the pres­i­den­tial race but won a close US se­nate race.

Nu­mer­ous stud­ies have shown US elec­tions, which are de­cen­tral­ized and run by the states, are ba­si­cally sound. “Mr Trump never men­tions what cri­te­ria would be nec­es­sary for him to make a de­ci­sion about a chal­lenge,” said Stephen Zack, an at­tor­ney who rep­re­sented Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore in the case that was brought to the Supreme Court over the elec­tion re­count in Florida in 2000. “Ba­si­cally it is left as, ‘I’ll see what it smells like and then I will sur­prise you,’” Zack said. “There are rule-of-law is­sues that per­tain to elec­tions that sep­a­rate us from any­where else in the world.”

— AP

OHIO: Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a cam­paign rally at the Delaware County Fair.

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