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On Dec. 26, writing in Huntington’s Herald-Dispatch, a local columnist concluded, “... Trump and his allies have not been given a chance to present much evidence [of election fraud]. The courts are as mired in the deep state as anyone else so they just summarily reject him.”

When that fantasy was printed, the president and his supporters already had filed 40 cases. Twenty more have since followed. Of the 60 lawsuits, 59 either failed or were withdrawn.

Judges both conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican, at local, state and federal levels, including eight appointed by Donald Trump, have rejected the cases. Business Insider and Politifact reviewed each of the court filings. A sampling is revealing.

Despite Republicans’ wailings of fraud, the written complaints were consistently fact free. In dismissing a case asking to invalidate Pennsylvania’s election, the judge described “... legal arguments without merit ... unsupported by evidence.” In another Pennsylvania challenge, a Trump appointed federal judge wrote, “... calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

Arizona’s Supreme Court punted a lawsuit because no evidence of alleged misconduct was presented. The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided that a petition fell “... far short of the kind of compelling evidence and legal support we would need ...”

Red-faced Republicans dropped a Pennsylvania lawsuit that sought to bar individuals from correcting minor errors on their ballots, because the practice is entirely legal. In Philadelphia County, Trump’s supporters tried to stop the counting of votes, saying their poll watchers were not present. Later, in court, they admitted that their poll watchers were indeed present.

Late filings, bizarre legal hypotheses and sloppiness doomed some of the cases. Republicans lost their challenge to Pennsylvania’s no-excuse absentee voting because they filed the case only after millions had cast absentee votes. A judge dismissed a claim by Trump’s Michigan supporters who alleged the state’s Board of Canvassers could not declare a winner, which Michigan law requires the canvassers to do. Another Michigan lawuit alleged wrong-doing at precincts — in Minnesota. Another described alleged illegalities in Edison County, Michigan, which does not exist.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued to invalidate election laws in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia. Never to miss an opportunity for grandstanding, West Virginia’s GOP attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, and Republican Reps. Carol Miller and Alex Mooney signed on to the lawsuit even though it represented a broadside against states’ rights. The U.S. Supreme Court quickly rejected it. Morrisey, Miller and Mooney should be asked whether they would support a challenge to West Virginia’s gun laws, if brought by, say, New York’s attorney general.

President Trump’s functioning is rapidly deteriorating. In the past week, he has badgered Georgia’s secretary of state to “recalculate” that state’s election results and then incited supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol and temporarily halted the delivery of Electoral College ballots. Surely, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart has taken note that one of the Capitol’s vandals was West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans, R-Wayne.

Ultimately, the ceremonial handover of ballots continued and Joe Biden’s victory was finalized. But the Huntington writer was correct, at least in part — there was indeed an effort to steal the election. But it was Donald Trump, rather than a conspiracy of judges, who led it.

For the republic to survive, the people must possess faith in the integrity of our elections. If we are to stand apart from authoritarian nations and banana republics, we must believe in the peaceful transition of power. Paranoid claims of a “deep state” are termites gnawing at that faith. Now, for the well-being of America’s future, it is time that President Trump and his enablers admit defeat and strike their canvas.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. Reach him at Wyatt@Marshall.edu.