Texas Files Lawsuit With SCOTUS Challenging Election Procedures in 4 Swing States

Texas is suing Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the Supreme Court over "unconstitutional irregularities" in the election process, saying the states used the coronavirus pandemic to justify "ignoring state laws" with regard to absentee and mail-in voting.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit on Tuesday, alleging the four swing states violated state and federal law when they modified election procedures. The four battleground states listed in the suit were key to President Donald Trump's path to victory in 2016 and were vital to his reelection bid. Given the number of electoral votes at stake, the plaintiffs argued the states will "determine the outcome of the election."

"With all unlawful votes discounted, the election result is an open question that this Court must address," Paxton's brief to the Supreme Court said.

Without factoring the four states into the electoral vote totals, former Vice President Biden, who has 306 votes, would be down to 244, compared with Trump's 232. Therefore, the plaintiffs argue, those states are critical to the election. Trump won all four states in 2016 but lost them this year.

texas georgia michigan wisconsin lawsuit pennsylvania
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, left, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speak during the launch of an antitrust investigation into large tech companies outside of the Supreme Court on September 9, 2019. On Monday, Paxton filed a brief with the Supreme Court alleging that Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania violated federal law by changing election procedures. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

The suit charged executive and judicial officials in the four states with making "significant changes" to election rules, a move that the plaintiffs argue "did away" with security measures for absentee and mail-in ballots. Among the measures that the plaintiffs say were removed were signature verification, witness requirements, poll observers and authorized secure ballot drop-off locations.

Signature verification and the ability for people to observe the election process are two issues the Trump campaign and the president have stressed in their election fight. Poll observers being kept too far from where ballots were being opened was one of the first problems the campaign had with the election, and Trump has pushed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to demand signature verification in the election.

"The Republican Governor of Georgia refuses to do signature verification, which would give us an easy win. What's wrong with this guy? What is he hiding?" Trump, who also called Kemp a RINO (Republican in name only), tweeted on Monday.

Without matching signatures, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said, a recount in Georgia means nothing because alleged "fraudulent" ballots would still be added to the total votes for each candidate.

On Election Night, Trump had the lead over Biden as in-person votes were being counted. However, that lead quickly dwindled as states counted mail-in ballots, a voting method the president dissuaded his supporters from using. In the suit, the plaintiffs argue that there was a "one in a quadrillion" probability of Biden winning the popular vote in the four key swing states, given Trump's lead early on Wednesday morning after the election.

"Invalid or fraudulent votes debase or dilute the weight of each validly cast vote," the plaintiffs wrote in the brief.

The four states targeted in the Supreme Court filing are all ones that the Trump campaign has gone after themselves, but so far they've been fighting a losing legal battle. In legal filings, they cited many of the same reasons as the Supreme Court brief, and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the most recent development meant "huge."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called the lawsuit a "publicity stunt" and not a "serious legal pleading." She said that Paxton, not voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania, was to blame for the "erosion of confidence in our democratic system." Nessel added that the issues raised in the complaint have already been litigated and "roundly rejected."

Legal experts aren't confident the Supreme Court will take the case, though, and the plaintiffs are up against the clock. The plaintiffs' attorneys argued that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the case because it isn't just a matter of state laws but a violation of the Constitution. They added that the Supreme Court is the only forum that can "delay" the December 14 deadline for states to appoint their electors and pushed for them to do so.

Newsweek reached out to Attorney General Ken Paxton for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.