This CNN article, and others, reported that Trump asked for vote counting to stop, and threatening legal action to do so.
I can (sort of) understand calls for a recount, but, if he was behind, what did he hope to gain by stopping counting?
Politics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people interested in governments, policies, and political processes. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The Trump campaign has launched a number of different lawsuits, some requesting that counting be stopped in certain states, others insisting that counting continue in other states. The CNN article you linked states:
Trump's comments were especially remarkable since it appears that the President has a good chance of winning outstanding states in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan, which could hand him a second term. And the implication of his authoritarian remarks was that the President wants vote counting to stop in those states but to go on in Arizona, where he trails Biden.
That suggests to me, at least, that the situation has moved on between Trump's comments and your reading the article and current vote counts. At the point of calling for the count to be stopped, Trump was winning those states.
In addition, even if Trump is behind in those states, some of the suits they've filed include wanting to remove (or at least review with an option to remove) ballots that have been counted from the totals. Per this article by the Detroit Free Press:
"We have filed suit today in the Michigan Court of Claims to halt counting until meaningful access has been granted. We also demand to review those ballots which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access. President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.”
So your basic assumption is correct. He hopes to gain the electoral college votes of each state where he either wants counting to stop, or continue. And he hopes to gain those he's behind in by having the ballots already counted reviewed.
If counting was stopped today (November 5th) then Biden might be leading, but it's just a paper-thin lead.
Yes, Biden leads according to electoral votes in those states where the result is already more or less determined. But in many of those where counting still goes on and the results aren't crystal clear yet, the already counted votes show a Trump lead:
State Electors Trump% Biden% ------------------------------------- Pennsylvania 20 50.7* 48.1 Georgia 16 49.6* 49.2 North Carolina 15 50.1* 48.7 Arizona 11 48.1 50.5* Nevada 6 48.7 49.3* Alaska 3 62.1* 33.5 * = current leader
As you can see, if counting was stopped right now, then Trump would win all of these states except Nevada and Arizona. That would mean that Biden would lead by just a single electoral vote. This means two things:
When voting by mail, your ballot is in two envelopes. The outer envelope contains your name, signature, postmark, and whatever other mechanisms the state uses to validate your identity and your eligibility to vote. The inner envelope contains no identifying markings whatsoever.
Once the eligibility has been validated, the two envelopes are separated from each other so it’s not possible for a pollster to determine who voted for whom.
If it turns out that fraudulent votes were cast, there’s no way to adjust the vote counts accordingly, because there’s no way to tell who the fraudulent votes were cast for.
Using PA as an example, PA state law says that ballots must be received no later than 8PM on election day, but the PA Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots can be counted up to 9 days after the election to account for mail delays, even those without a postmark date.
The Trump campaign asserts that the judge’s ruling is illegal and wants to appeal the decision. If the votes have already been counted, then there’s no way to undo those counts even if they prevail in court. Therefore, they want to stop mail-in ballots that were received after election day from being counted, because that’s the only way they can prevent them from being included in vote totals if they win their case.