ATLANTA — There are at least three major lawsuits in the courts right now on behalf of President Donald Trump trying to achieve what the state's election and recount processes did not: Give him victory in Georgia.
His advocates allege widespread fraud that fundamentally changed the outcome of the election in the Peach State. State officials have adamantly rejected that, and soon the state will re-certify its election results after a hand-count audit and official recount that both confirmed Joe Biden's win.
Once those results are re-certified, legally speaking the presidential election will be over in Georgia. The Democrats' slate of Electoral College voters will be certified by Gov. Brian Kemp, and on Dec. 14 those voters will cast Georgia's Electoral College votes on behalf of Biden.
That is, if the courts don't intervene. Under federal law, challenges against the election have until Dec. 8, which is Tuesday, to be resolved.
Here's a look at the legal actions that have been mounted against Georgia's election results and where they currently stand, as of Saturday Dec. 5:
The Lin Wood suit
What it is: This was the first big lawsuit filed in Georgia, filed by the attorney Lin Wood, who made his fame representing Richard Jewell and earned the reputation as the "attorney for the damned."
What it says: Its central argument was that an agreement between Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger and Democratic organizations in March, to settle lawsuits by the Democrats over how to apply signature matching rules, had unilaterally and unconstitutionally altered Georgia election law, which should be the sole purview of the state legislature, the Georgia General Assembly. If you've seen President Trump tweet about the "consent decree," this is what he was referring to.
Where it stands: A judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Judge Steven Grimberg, found that Wood lacked standing to bring the suit and should have brought it sooner - given that the agreement was eight months old by the time of the November general election. He also rejected the more fundamental constitutional argument, writing:
Recognizing that Secretary Raffensperger is “the state’s chief election official,” the General Assembly enacted legislation permitting him (in his official capacity) to “formulate, adopt, and promulgate such rules and regulations, consistent with law, as will be conducive to the fair, legal, and orderly conduct of primaries and elections.” The Settlement Agreement is a manifestation of Secretary Raffensperger’s statutorily granted authority.
Wood appealed the ruling to the 11th Circuit U.S. Appeals Court, in Atlanta. It has not yet had a hearing. According to court records, Wood and his attorney in the case, Ray Smith III, filed a brief on Thursday arguing why the case should be heard. The 11th Circuit had expressed skepticism about hearing the case, based on jurisdictional questions and whether the relief he sought in his suit - to stop the election form being certified - was now moot.
UPDATE: Just a few minutes after this story was published, the 11th Circuit, in a unanimous 3-0 vote, dismissed Wood's suit. They both ruled on the jurisdictional matter and the matter of mootness.
"Because Georgia has already certified its results, Wood’s requests to delay certification and commence a new recount are moot," the opinion states.
It's unclear if Wood will try to further appeal to the Supreme Court.
UPDATE TWO: Wood now says he is preparing to petition for certiorari to have the Supreme Court review his case.
The "Kraken" suit
What it is: This is the much-hyped Sidney Powell lawsuit (with Lin Wood joining in on it). It was filed last week.
What it says: It alleges a great deal of things, but its basic premise is that a wide-ranging conspiracy was perpetrated by international and domestic actors to use Dominion Voting Systems, the company that makes the voting machines for Georgia and a number of other states, to rig the election for Joe Biden, in large part by switching votes from President Trump to Biden.
Georgia's hand-count audit of all 5 million of Georgia's paper votes (both those printed out by the Dominion machines, which were reviewed by voters, and those submitted by mail) confirmed the original machine count, and a machine recount has so far confirmed those two previous counts, making it highly implausible the results were manipulated at any point.
Powell and those who have given testimony for her have argued that fraudulent ballots were inserted into the system and the hand-count was conducted in a manner to deliberately overlook them. They have not offered direct material evidence of this, instead at a Georgia Senate hearing this week presenting data analysis and accounts of various individuals who served as poll workers or observers during the election and audit.
They also presented surveillance video from State Farm Arena on election night of counting occurring late into the night, after observers and media left. State officials have long acknowledged that counting occurred, and said it was done legally. You can read more about the Fulton County surveillance video episode here: Fact-checking claims about Fulton County's election | These 'suitcases' are actually ballot containers
The Powell suit seeks, among a number of extraordinary forms of relief, the dismissal of all mail-in ballots used in Georgia in this election and an order that Gov. Kemp "transmit certified election results that state that President Donald Trump is the winner of the election."
Where it stands: A hearing on this case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 7, before Judge Timothy Batten.
UPDATE: Judge Batten dismissed the lawsuit Monday morning, Dec. 7. It is likely Powell will now appeal to the 11th Circuit.
UPDATE TWO: On Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 8, Powell filed her appeal with the 11th Circuit.
The Trump/David Shafer suit
What it is: This was filed yesterday (Friday, Dec. 4). It represents President Trump as a direct named plaintiff for the first time, as well as Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer.
What it says: This suit differs markedly from the "Kraken" suit in that it alleges significant voter fraud, enough to change the election outcome, but not a conspiracy. Its central claim is that there were thousands of votes counted - many more than the 12,000 margin by which Joe Biden has won Georgia - that were simply illegal; votes cast by people under 18, for example, or by people who were not listed in the state's records as actually registered to vote.
On Twitter, Shafer characterized it as "thousands of examples of 'low tech' voting irregularities and fraud sufficient in scale to place the election result in doubt."
They have not to this point presented public evidence of any of these allegations. In a CNN interview on Saturday, Shafer indicated that evidence would not be made public until the case is heard in court, saying, "We submitted hundreds of pages of evidence in the lawsuit and it'll be litigated in the courts."
Unlike the other two suits, this was filed in a state court, Fulton County Superior Court, rather than federal court. It seeks to nullify the 2020 election in Georgia, and order a new presidential election.
Where it stands: Being as that the lawsuit was filed yesterday, it's not yet clear when a hearing will be set.
UPDATE: Fulton County said today (Monday, Dec. 7) that this case has not been officially filed yet, sending this message to news outlets:
"The referenced filing, submitted on 12/4/20 @ 6:26pm, was rejected for the following reasons:
- The appropriate filing fees
- The Case Information Form was not fully completed, as required."
UPDATE TWO: Records indicate the suit has now been successfully filed. There does not appear to be a hearing for this case scheduled yet.
Read the suits
The Lin Wood suit:
The "Kraken" suit:
The Trump/Shafer suit: