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Attorney General William Barr OKs election probes despite little evidence of fraud

States have until Dec. 8 to resolve disputes

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Attorney General William Barr speaks during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Republican state attorneys general about social media companies, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. In the run up to Election Day, President Donald Trump is seizing on small, potentially routine voting issues to suggest the election is rigged. But there is no evidence there is any widespread voter fraud as the president has suggested. Nevertheless, his comments have been amplified by his campaign, supporters and allies, including Barr, adding heft to the claims. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Attorney General William Barr speaks during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Republican state attorneys general about social media companies, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. In the run up to Election Day, President Donald Trump is seizing on small, potentially routine voting issues to suggest the election is rigged. But there is no evidence there is any widespread voter fraud as the president has suggested. Nevertheless, his comments have been amplified by his campaign, supporters and allies, including Barr, adding heft to the claims. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – Attorney General William Barr has authorized federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election is certified, despite little evidence of fraud.

Barr’s action comes days after Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump and raises the prospect that Trump will use the Justice Department to try to challenge the outcome. It gives prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election is formally certified.

Trump has not conceded the election and is instead claiming without evidence that there has been a widespread, multi-state conspiracy by Democrats to skew the vote tally in Biden’s favor.

Biden holds a sizable lead in multiple battleground states and there has been no indication of enough improperly counted or illegally cast votes that would shift the outcome. In fact, election officials from both political parties have publicly stated the election went well, though there have been minor issues that are typical in elections, including voting machines breaking and ballots that were miscast and lost.

In a memo to U.S. attorneys, obtained by The Associated Press, Barr wrote that investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.”

States have until Dec. 8 to resolve election disputes, including recounts and court contests over the results. Members of the Electoral College meet Dec. 14 to finalize the outcome.