Last updated July 2022
- Eight political conservatives, including two former GOP senators and three federal judges nominated by Republicans, state that Joe Biden was the “unequivocal” choice of the majority of voters.
- Of the 64 cases alleging 187 counts of voter fraud, irregularities, corruption, or procedural deficiencies in battleground states: 20 were dismissed before a hearing, 14 were voluntarily dismissed, and 30 had a hearing on the merits. All claims of fraud and miscount failed.
- The basis for most lawsuits challenging the 2020 election in battleground states was fraud, irregularities, or procedural shortcomings, but none of the cases proved that the election was fraudulent.
- Post-election reviews in the form of audits and recounts also failed to support Donald Trump’s claims that he won the election.
- The authors concluded that the 2020 election was “administered by trained professionals who reaffirmed their established track record for fairness.”
Former Republican Senators John Danforth and Gordon H. Smith, among other political conservatives, investigated 64 lawsuits alleging 187 counts of election fraud filed by former President Donald Trump and his supporters in the six “battleground” states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The resulting July 2022 report, “Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election,” determined that Joe Biden unequivocally won the 2020 presidential election.
The cases examined in the report involved allegations of fraud, including improperly counted ballots, voting machines producing rigged results, mail-in ballot irregularities, ineligible voters casting votes, and restricted access for Republican observers trying to monitor polling places and vote counting, as well as procedural issues.
After studying these cases, the authors reached the following conclusions:
- Donald Trump and his supporters “failed to present evidence of fraud or inaccurate results significant enough to invalidate the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.”
- There was no evidence of fraud “on the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. In fact, there was no fraud that changed the outcome in even a single precinct.”
- Donald Trump and his supporters “had their day in court and failed to produce substantive evidence to make their case.”
- Failure in the cases examined was due to lack of evidence rather than “erroneous rulings or unfair judges.”
- “In many instances, Republican candidates other than Trump won despite being subject to the same alleged fraudulent systems that Trump supporters declaim.”
- The 2020 election was “administered by trained professionals who reaffirmed their established track record for fairness.”
- Repetition of false charges of voter fraud and corruption “causes real harm to the basic foundations of the country, with 30 percent of the population lacking faith in the results of our elections.”
II. Report Authors
The July 2022 report, “Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election,” was written by eight self-described political conservatives who “have become deeply troubled by efforts to overturn or discredit the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.”
- John Danforth served as a Republican senator from Missouri from 1976-1995, Attorney General of Missouri from 1969-1976, and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations by President George W. Bush in 2004.Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame, “John C. Danforth,” publicaffairs.missouristate.edu (accessed July 18, 2022), https://publicaffairs.missouristate.edu/HallOfFame/Danforth.htm
- Benjamin Ginsberg is a lawyer who serves as counsel to the Republican Governors Association and was previously national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 and to the Romney for President campaigns in 2008 and 2012. He worked on Republican side of the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore that ultimately led to George W. Bush becoming president, and is listed as a Federalist Society contributor.The Federalist Society, “Benjamin L. Ginsberg,” fedsoc.org (accessed July 18, 2022), https://fedsoc.org/contributors/benjamin-ginsberg
- Thomas B. Griffith was a federal judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from 2005-2020, nominated by George W. Bush. He was Senate legal counsel from 1995-1999, advising the Senate leadership on issues including Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, and is listed as a Federalist Society contributor.The Federalist Society, “Hon. Thomas B. Griffith,” fedsoc.org (accessed July 18, 2022), https://fedsoc.org/contributors/thomas-griffith
- David Hoppe served as chief of staff to several Republicans in Congress, including Paul Ryan, Jon Kyl, Trent Lott, and Jack Kemp. Prior to that, he helped craft President Ronald Reagan’s tax reform policies.APB, “David Hoppe,” apbspeakers.com (accessed July 18, 2022), https://www.apbspeakers.com/speaker/david-hoppe/
- J. Michael Luttig was a federal judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1991-2006, nominated by George H. W. Bush. He was assistant counsel to the president under Ronald Reagan and clerked for then-judge Antonin Scalia.Frontline, “J. Michael Luttig,” pbs.org, May 25, 2022, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/interview/j-michael-luttig/
- Michael W. McConnell was a federal judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit from 2002-2009, nominated by George W. Bush.Stanford Law, “Michael W. McConnell,” law.stanford.edu (accessed July 18, 2022), https://law.stanford.edu/directory/michael-w-mcconnell/The New York Times described him as “a staunchly conservative law professor at the University of Utah” who is an outspoken opponent of abortion” and “the nation’s leading scholar advocating the view that there is too much emphasis on the separation of church and state.”Neil A. Lewis, “Latest Bush Judicial Nominee Is a Test for Senate Democrats,” nytimes.com, September 18, 2022, … Continue reading
- Theodore B. Olson was Solicitor General of the United States from 2001-2004, nominated by George W. Bush. He was also Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1981-1984 under Ronald Reagan, and served as private counsel to both Bush and Reagan. He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Federalist Society.Gibson Dunn, “Theodore B. Olson,” gibsondunn.com (accessed July 18, 2022), https://www.gibsondunn.com/lawyer/olson-theodore-b/
- Gordon H. Smith served as a Republican senator from Oregon from 1997-2009. International Center for Law and Religion Studies, “Gordon H. Smith,” clrs.org (accessed July 18, 2022), https://www.iclrs.org/blurb/gordon-h-smith/
The authors disclosed their affiliations as follows:
“Every member of this informal group has worked in Republican politics, been appointed to office by Republicans, or is otherwise associated with the Party. None have shifted loyalties to the Democratic Party, and none bear any ill will toward Trump and especially not toward his sincere supporters. Many of us have worked over the years in polling places as part of Republican Election Day Operations looking for the same sort of fraud and irregularities Donald Trump claimed in 2020. Such vigilance is entirely appropriate and must not be stigmatized as ‘voter suppression.'”
They stated that their intention in providing a record of the failed attempts to discredit the election is to “help restore faith in the reliability of our elections.”
III. State-by-State Summary of the Evidence
Twenty of the 64 cases brought by Trump or his supporters were dismissed before a hearing on their merits,According to Practice Panther, “a hearing on the merits is a formal court hearing, conducted under the rules of evidence, to decide issues put forward filed in the complaint or summons.” … Continue reading 14 were voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs, and 30 cases received a hearing on the merits.
According to the report, zero claims of fraud or miscount prevailed. The plaintiffs had three wins out of 19 Pennsylvania cases alleging procedural issues: an extended ballot curing deadline was overturned, 270 unsigned provisional ballots were tossed, and certain election day provisional ballots were set aside.
The authors performed an analysis of the cases filed in what they called “six highly contested Electoral College battleground states.” In Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, the lawsuits alleged fraud, irregularities, and procedural deficiencies. While Trump called the Pennsylvania election fraudulent, the legal challenges in that state alleged procedural problems rather than fraud. Results are summarized below.
- 8 cases were brought, with a total of 29 total counts, the plaintiffs were unsuccessful in all cases
- 1 post-election review reaffirmed Biden’s win
- 3 hand counts in Maricopa County found no material discrepancies with the certified results
- Multiple forensic audits into the reliability of Dominion voting machines found the machines functions properly
Allegations by Trump and his supporters in Arizona maintained that the election results were fraudulent, specifically due to:
- The manipulation of Dominion Voting Machines to increase the vote for Biden and decrease the vote for Trump – The claim was debunked by forensic audits of the machinery by multiple investigators, including the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, independent professional investigators, and a firm hired by Arizona Republicans, leading the federal court to find the claims to be “void of plausible allegations.”
- Ballots being incorrectly counted, or not counted at all – The cases were dismissed due to lack of evidence, with one judge decrying the “‘cavalier approach’ of Trump supporters in bringing claims” that were “wholly unreliable.” Two further allegations that votes were not counted were voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs.
- Unsolicited absentee ballots being sent to votersUnder Arizona law, an absentee ballot must be requested by the voter. – One claim alleging that 214,526 absentee ballots were sent to voters who had not requested them was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff.
- Voter eligibility requirements not being enforced – The court dismissed the case and said the claim’s 300-plus pages of evidence was “only impressive in its volume” due to the various affidavits and expert reports being “largely based on anonymous witnesses, hearsay, and irrelevant analysis of unrelated elections.”
- Ballot drop boxes being unfairly located throughout the state – The case was voluntarily dismissed and as such the claims were not tested in court.
- Poll workers failing to carefully monitor the election count – The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.
In summary: “There is no evidence of any widespread misfeasance or malfeasance that would have affected the result of the 2020 Presidential Election in Arizona. Nearly all claims of voter fraud have failed, and no one’s vote was counted more than once. The Trump campaign’s claims about the Dominion voting machines were proven false by independent audits. The report from the now-defunct Cyber Ninjas has been debunked, and even it reaffirmed Trump’s loss and found 99 additional votes for Biden. All legal claims – about Dominion voting machines, ballot counting, mail-in ballots, voter-eligibility requirements, ballot drop boxes, and conduct by poll officials – failed.”
- 11 cases, 38 counts, the plaintiffs were unsuccessful in all cases
- 1 statewide risk-limiting audit (hand recount) of all the five million ballots cast in the election reaffirmed Biden’s win
- 1 post-certification recount reaffirmed Biden’s win
Allegations by Trump and his supporters in Georgia maintained that the election results were fraudulent, with the election being beset by irregularities and procedural deficiencies, specifically due to:
- The counting of unlawful ballots, including by deceased, non-resident, and other ineligible voters, and the double-counting of ballots – The claims were debunked by a statewide risk-limiting audit and a post-certification recount, and dismissed in court due to lack of evidence and the fact the claims rested on “speculation rather than duly pled facts.”
- Irregularities in absentee ballot procedures, and the illegal installation of drop boxes – The claims were dismissed due to a lack of evidence or deemed to be speculative. Judges in one case concluded that the processing rules for absentee ballots were applied “in a wholly uniform manner across the entire state.”
- The manipulation of Dominion Voting Machines to benefit Biden – The claims were rejected by the courts and in one case deemed “astonishingly speculative.”
- The certification of the election results before all election contests were resolved – The claim was dismissed by a federal judge who noted that the “dilatory actions” of the plaintiffs delayed procedures, and “that they were provided adequate opportunity to be heard in state court.”
- The restriction of observers trying to monitor the initial absentee ballot count and subsequent risk-limiting audit – A “federal court found no credible evidence of fraud or impropriety” in relation to observers, concluding that “the plaintiff’s purported evidence of statewide impropriety was mere speculation.”
- The acceptance of third party funds that “caused a private-public entanglement that impacted the election results” – The case was dismissed on procedural grounds with no appeal from the plaintiffs.
In summary: “There was no widespread voter fraud in Georgia. The Associated Press identified just 64 cases of potential fraud, which represents one-half of one percent of Biden’s victory, far too few to change the result. Allegations from Trump or his campaign were all debunked by investigating officials and the courts. These claims were founded on speculation, not facts.”
- 9 cases, 31 counts, the plaintiffs were unsuccessful in all cases
- 1 post-election hand count of all paper ballots in Antrim County confirmed results produced by the voting machines
- 1 statewide hand count of 18,000 randomly selected ballots reaffirmed Biden’s win
- 1 post-election audit report by the Michigan Bureau of Elections found “no evidence of intentional misconduct or fraud by election officials.”
Allegations by Trump and his supporters in Michigan maintained that the election results were fraudulent and the election process was beset with irregularities, specifically due to:
- The restriction of election challengers trying to monitor the absentee ballot countAccording to the Washtenaw County Democratic Party, election challengers are volunteers appointed by political parties “to monitor our elections and make sure that every eligible voter gets to … Continue reading – Every court that examined these types of allegations found them “insufficient or not credible,” or “based entirely on unsubstantiated speculation.” One federal court ruled that the treatment of election challengers had “no bearing on the validity of the votes.”
- Defective Dominion Voting Machines, and the manipulation of voting machines to benefit Biden – The claims were debunked by a full post-election hand count of all paper ballots in Antrim County, and rejected by courts as meritless. One federal court found allegations of the manipulation of voting machines as “nothing more than ‘an amalgamation of theories, conjecture, and speculation’” and sanctioned the plaintiffs’ attorneys for failure to inquire into the ‘evidence’ that contained “outlandish and easily debunked numbers” that “represented data as being from Michigan when it was actually from Minnesota.”
- Failure to provide video surveillance or meaningful opportunity to observe absentee ballot boxes – Courts found the claim had “no factual basis.”
- Fraud at the TCF Center in Detroit and other Detroit-area voting centers in favor of Biden and the Democratic Party – All claims were found to have a “lack of factual basis” and one federal court noted that a case contained “nothing but speculation and conjecture.” A state court found that the “plaintiffs’ interpretation of events was incorrect and not credible.”
- Imbalances in the counting of absentee ballots, allowing ineligible voters to vote, sending out unsolicited absentee ballots,Under Michigan law, an absentee ballot must be requested by the voter. and accepting third-party funds to create an unfair election system that favors the Democratic Party – The Michigan Supreme Court “denied the petition, declining to exercise jurisdiction.” The report notes an investigation by the Republican members of the state’s Senate Oversight Committee that refuted the allegation that ineligible voters impacted the election results, stating that 99.99% of ballots examined were legitimate votes. The Oversight Committee also said that no evidence was presented to them to support any of Trump’s supporters’ claims that unsolicited absentee ballots were received, reporting that it appeared “many who claimed to have received an unsolicited ballot actually received an absentee-ballot application, which is called for under Michigan law.”
In summary: “All claims of any wrongdoing sufficient to affect the result of the 2020 Presidential Election in Michigan have been thoroughly investigated and refuted. There was no widespread voter fraud. The was no such fraud at Detroit’s TCF Center, no evidence of ballot-box tampering, and no evidence of intentional misconduct or fraud by election officials. Claims of fraud by Dominion voting machines were riddled with ‘wildly inaccurate assertions’ and eviscerated after a forensic review of the machines. Legal challenges were aptly described by one judge as ‘profound abuse of the judicial process,’ and attempt to ‘undermin[e] the People’s faith in our democracy.'”
- 10 cases, 28 counts, the plaintiffs were unsuccessful in all cases
- Numerous investigations into over 3,000 complaints submitted by Trump and his supporters challenging the election results were investigated by the Secretary of State, a Republican, “repeatedly confirmed the integrity of the election, finding no allegations of election misconduct that would have any impact on the election results.”
Allegations by Trump and his supporters in Nevada maintained that the election results were fraudulent and the election process was beset by irregularities, specifically due to:
- Voter fraud – The courts found “no allegations of voter fraud were found to be meritorious at the scale necessary to impact the outcome of the election,” even noting that in one instance, “Trump and his supporters failed even to offer sufficient evidence. In other words, when given a chance to prove their claims in court, they came up short.”
- Interference with election observers – Claims that observers were restricted when attempting to access ballot counts were dismissed after the courts reported “finding no evidence that election officials had done anything amiss.”
- Use, and misuse, of Agilis voting machines – All claims were dismissed due to lack of evidence, with one court stating that “there was no evidence of any Agilis errors or inaccuracies.”
- Assembly Bill 4 and the extension of mail-in ballots – A case challenging modified voting procedures for the Covid-19 brought by the Trump Campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party was dismissed for lack of standing. Other state and federal courts rejected claims that the bill unlawfully treated mail-in ballots differently to in-person votes.
- Illegal activities during voter drives, including offering gifts for votes and misrepresentative materials in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris – The claims were debunked after courts found that the plaintiffs failed to prove that state officials had acted unlawfully, and found no evidence of voter manipulation.
In summary: “The 2020 Presidential Election in Nevada was conducted with integrity, as affirmed and reaffirmed by investigations. Cases of voter fraud were isolated and few. There was no illegal interference with election observers, fraud by voting machines, unlawful absentee-voting procedures, or bribery of voters.”
- 19 cases, 45 counts, the plaintiffs were partially successful in some “procedural claims, not based on fraud,… but none impugned the outcome of the election.”
- One statewide risk-limiting audit of 45,000 randomly selected ballots reaffirmed Biden’s win
- One “forensic” audit by an Iowa-based firm that was hired under a no-bid contract, awaiting results as of July 2022
Allegations by Trump and his supporters in Pennsylvania maintained that the election results were incorrect, however none of the cases directly focused on, or alleged, voter fraud. Instead the cases in Pennsylvania focused on:
- Extending election deadlines – Some “challenges to ballot-deadline extensions met some success based on state statutes, but no court found any evidence of fraud connected with extended deadlines.” One case successfully challenged the extended ballot cure period.Instead of immediately rejecting a mail-in ballot because of a problem with the signature on the envelope or other issues, “many states rely on ballot curing to give voters a chance to fix – or … Continue reading
- Observer-related violations – All claims that Trump’s observers were prevented from observing the election process “uniformly failed in court,” with one federal court dismissing a case after the Trump Campaign “had failed to plead differential treatment of its watchers.” One court upheld Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing as they equally affected both Republican and Democratic observers, while another case was “voluntarily dismissed after the parties reached an agreement by which 60 observers each from the Democratic and Republican parties were permitted to observe the mail-in ballot counting process in Philadelphia County.”
- Counting deficient, but not fraudulent, absentee ballots – Cases challenging incomplete or incorrectly filled out ballots were dismissed due to the lack of evidence “that would lead to the conclusion that any of the challenged ballots were submitted by someone not qualified or entitled to vote in this election.” In one case seeking to exclude tens of thousands of Pennsylvania mail-in ballots or invalidate all of the state’s nearly seven million votes, the federal court responded that it had “been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations … and unsupported by evidence.” Two cases alleging deficient absentee ballots were successful but not on the grounds of fraud. In one case, 270 ballots were rejected due to a lack of signature or other defect, and in a second case, a “state court ordered officials to set aside provisional ballots cast on Election Day by voters whose absentee or mail-in ballots were also timely received.”
- Challenging the state’s new universal mail-in voting statute, enacted in October 2019 – The Trump Campaign prevailed in one case that argued that ballots missing the outer secrecy envelope should not be counted, and failed in one that challenged the use of drop boxes. One case filed after the start of the certification of the election results was dismissed as untimely since any administrative question must be resolved before an election.
In summary: “Contrary to public claims, Trump made no formal allegation of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and there was no widespread fraud. The Associated Press identified just 26 potential cases of voter fraud, but these represent just 0.03% of Biden’s margin of victory, far, far too few to have any impact on the result. Procedural claims, not based on fraud, met with some success, but none impugned the outcome of the election. To be sure, the legislature made significant last-minute changes in voting procedures, which inspired challenges under Pennsylvania (not federal) constitutional law. Last-minute changes are not optimal, and we would hope that this experience would not be repeated outside the circumstances of the COVID-19 emergency. But the new procedures (‘no excuse’ mail-in ballots) have been used in other states for years without incident, and there is no evidence that they resulted in any increase in fraud.”
- 7 cases, 16 counts, the plaintiffs were unsuccessful in all cases
- 1 recount each in Milwaukee and Dane Counties reaffirmed Biden’s win
Allegations by Trump and his supporters in Wisconsin maintained that the election results were impacted by fraudulent votes and that the election process in relation to absentee ballots was beset with irregularities, specifically due to:
- New guidance on absentee ballot procedures introduced in March 2020 – Challenges were dismissed as untimely since any administrative challenges must be resolved before an election, not after the election results are known.
- Incorrect processing and collection of absentee ballots – A state court found “no credible evidence of misconduct or wide-scale fraud” and dismissed the case; the ruling was affirmed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
In summary: “There was no widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin. Trump-requested recounts only increased Biden’s margin of victory. Legal claims targeted not fraud but ordinary election-administration challenges related to absentee and mail-in ballots. All were rejected.”
All quotes on this page not otherwise sourced come from the report, “Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election.”
|↑1||Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame, “John C. Danforth,” publicaffairs.missouristate.edu (accessed July 18, 2022), https://publicaffairs.missouristate.edu/HallOfFame/Danforth.htm|
|↑2||The Federalist Society, “Benjamin L. Ginsberg,” fedsoc.org (accessed July 18, 2022), https://fedsoc.org/contributors/benjamin-ginsberg|
|↑3||The Federalist Society, “Hon. Thomas B. Griffith,” fedsoc.org (accessed July 18, 2022), https://fedsoc.org/contributors/thomas-griffith|
|↑4||APB, “David Hoppe,” apbspeakers.com (accessed July 18, 2022), https://www.apbspeakers.com/speaker/david-hoppe/|
|↑5||Frontline, “J. Michael Luttig,” pbs.org, May 25, 2022, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/interview/j-michael-luttig/|
|↑6||Stanford Law, “Michael W. McConnell,” law.stanford.edu (accessed July 18, 2022), https://law.stanford.edu/directory/michael-w-mcconnell/|
|↑7||Neil A. Lewis, “Latest Bush Judicial Nominee Is a Test for Senate Democrats,” nytimes.com, September 18, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/18/us/latest-bush-judicial-nominee-is-a-test-for-senate-democrats.html|
|↑8||Gibson Dunn, “Theodore B. Olson,” gibsondunn.com (accessed July 18, 2022), https://www.gibsondunn.com/lawyer/olson-theodore-b/|
|↑9||International Center for Law and Religion Studies, “Gordon H. Smith,” clrs.org (accessed July 18, 2022), https://www.iclrs.org/blurb/gordon-h-smith/|
|↑10||According to Practice Panther, “a hearing on the merits is a formal court hearing, conducted under the rules of evidence, to decide issues put forward filed in the complaint or summons.” – Source: Practice Panther, “Legal Dictionary: Hearing on the Merits,” practicepanther.com, accessed on July 18, 2022, https://www.practicepanther.com/legal-dictionary/hearing-on-the-merits/|
|↑11||Under Arizona law, an absentee ballot must be requested by the voter.|
|↑12||According to the Washtenaw County Democratic Party, election challengers are volunteers appointed by political parties “to monitor our elections and make sure that every eligible voter gets to cast a ballot that counts. … [they] can stand or sit behind the tables in precincts, observe the processing of voters, and look at the poll book. They have the right to challenge the actions of the poll workers if the challenger believes that election law is not being followed.” – Source: Washtenaw County Democratic Party, “Be an Election Challenger!,” washtenawdems.org, February 17, 2020, https://www.washtenawdems.org/be-an-election-challenger/|
|↑13||Under Michigan law, an absentee ballot must be requested by the voter.|
|↑14||Instead of immediately rejecting a mail-in ballot because of a problem with the signature on the envelope or other issues, “many states rely on ballot curing to give voters a chance to fix – or ‘cure’ – problems on their ballot envelope before their ballot is discarded,” according to the Bipartisan Policy Institute. Source: Rachel Orey and Owen Bacskai, “The Low Down on Ballot Curing,” bipartisanpolicy.org, November 4, 2020, https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/the-low-down-on-ballot-curing|