WASHINGTON — Election Day is 12 days away. But in courtrooms across the country, efforts to sow doubt over the outcome have already begun.
More than 100 lawsuits have been filed this year around the upcoming midterm elections. The suits, largely by Republicans, target rules over mail-in voting, early voting, voter access, voting machines, voting registration, the counting of mismarked absentee ballots and access for partisan poll watchers.
It’s the most litigation ever before an election and it’s likely a preview of a potentially contentious post-election landscape. The strategy was born in part of the failure of allies of former President Donald Trump to successfully challenge and overturn the free and fair results of the 2020 presidential election.
But while the 2020 election effort was an ad hoc response fronted by a collection of increasingly ill-prepared lawyers that included Rudy Giuliani, today’s effort is a more formalized, well-funded and well-organized campaign run by the Republican National Committee and other legal allies with strong bona fides. Party officials say they are actively preparing for recounts, contested elections and more litigation. And there are thousands of volunteers in place primed to challenge ballots and hunt down evidence of malfeasance.
“We’re now at the point where charges of fraud and suppression are baked into the turnout models for each party. Republicans charge fraud. Democrats charge suppression. Each side amplifies its position with massive and costly amounts of litigation and messaging,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, co-chair of the Election Official Legal Defense Network and former counsel to the George W. Bush campaign and other Republican candidates.
Democrats, too, have similar efforts underway. But their legal effort ahead of the election focuses on making voting easier and helping those denied a chance to vote, through legal hotlines and volunteers. A team led by attorney Marc