Will Donald Trump go to court over alleged electoral fraud and what could happen?

Before all votes were counted, Mr Trump falsely insisted he had won the presidential race. But while Joe Biden currently appears to be in lead, the current president could still win the election with the final states to go, with the outcome too close to call.  

Here we take a look at what could happen if Mr Trump goes to court over the alleged “election fraud”.

What has Donald Trump said?

Appearing before supporters at the White House on Wednesday morning, Mr Trump said: “This is a fraud on the American public, this is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election – frankly we did win this election.

“So our goal now is to ensure the integrity – for the good of this nation, this is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on our nation.”

The US president also alleged the Democratic Party was attempting to “steal the election”.

Prominent Democratic opponents took to social media to condemn Mr Trump’s claim of victory.

New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “Donald Trump’s premature claims of victory are illegitimate, dangerous, and authoritarian. Count the votes. Respect the results.”

Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar added on Twitter: “The irony of worrying about people turning America into Somalia, while allowing Trump to do literally what Somali dictators used to do.

“Wake up, he is destroying everything that sets us apart. We send election observers into other countries, we shouldn’t need ours monitored.”

US news organisations also rebuked Mr Trump after he falsely claimed on live television that he had won re-election even as votes were still being counted.

CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell said Mr Trump was “castrating the facts” by “falsely claiming that he has won the election and disenfranchising millions of voters whose ballots have not been counted”.

“Donald Trump is losing right now both in the popular vote and the electoral vote and there are many states left to be called,” ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos said.

Has the Supreme Court intervened before?

Yes, and the judges were key in the outcome of the highly contested 2000 election between George W Bush and Al Gore.

The race was so close that it came down to the result in Florida, where the pair were separated by just a few hundred votes.

Bitter legal battles ensued and a recount saw rows over the validity of “hanging chads”, punch-card ballots that had not been fully perforated.

But a controversial Supreme Court ruling ended the recount, five to four in favour of Mr Bush, who won the election when his Democratic opponent conceded defeat.

Any legal battle this year could make that one look like a playground scrap.

Claims of alleged ‘fraud’

Mr Trump is claiming that the election is being stolen by “electoral fraud” after the huge numbers of postal votes that were cast.

The Supreme Court has already issued two rulings in the election. One ruling allowed ballots received in Pennsylvania up to three days after Election Day to be counted, and another blocked ballots received in Wisconsin after Election Day from being counted.

Even during the divisive election campaign, which was overshadowed by the complexities of voting during the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Biden’s campaign expected Mr Trump to seize on record numbers of postal votes to allege he was being cheated.

Mr Biden’s team said Mr Trump’s statement was “a naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens” as the law required every “duly cast vote” to be counted.

Mr Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said: “If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort.

“And they will prevail.”

A new Supreme Court justice

The president’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court justice just days before the election, created a 6-3 Conservative majority. The move could prove to be a decisive move if the result ends up being thrashed out in the Supreme Court.

In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Mr Trump spoke of needing a replacement to bring the number of justices sitting in the court to nine so no tie can be possible. That ninth justice, Ms Barrett, was the third to be picked by Mr Trump.

Any decision down party lines, however, would risk further politicising the court. A key figure to watch would be chief justice John Roberts, who has sided with liberals on controversial issues.

What will happen if the Supreme Court intervenes?

If the Supreme Court is involved after Election Day, it will likely be in response to specific legal conflicts that Mr Trump raises. The president will probably look to overturn decisions which allowed postal votes sent, but not received, before Election Day to be counted.

Republicans are said to be keeping their legal options open to challenge absentee ballots in Pennsylvania, if the battleground state ends up deciding Mr Trump’s re-election.

Two federal lawsuits aim to prevent absentee votes from being counted. 

US election 2020: How the night unfolded

“You have to have numbers. You can’t have these things delayed for many days and maybe weeks. You can’t do that. The whole world is waiting,” Mr Trump said at his campaign headquarters.

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Republicans accused county officials in Democratic-leaning Montgomery County of improperly giving voters a chance to fix problems with their postal votes before Tuesday.

A county spokeswoman said state law does not ban the practice. A federal judge in Philadelphia has set a hearing for Wednesday morning on the Republican bid to stop the count of 49 ballots that were amended in the suburban Philadelphia county.

On Tuesday night in Pennsylvania, Republican US representative Mike Kelly and five other plaintiffs filed suit in state court to block the state’s counties from allowing voters whose postal ballots were disqualified to cast a vote by provisional ballot.

Pennsylvania’s top election official, Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, insisted that the practice is legal and not prohibited by law. Regardless, she said there are not “overwhelming” numbers of voters who cast a provisional ballot after their postal vote was disqualified, but she did not give an exact figure.

“So I don’t think this is going to be huge issue no matter which way it goes,” Ms Boockvar said.

The majority of the state’s postal and absentee ballots are being cast by Democrats.

Even a small number of contested votes could matter if Pennsylvania is the state that decides the election and the gap between Mr Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is so small that a few thousand votes, or even a few hundred, could make the difference.

Additional reporting by PA Media.