Voting machine companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic are heading back to court next year, likely dragging reams of new evidence and allies of Donald Trump into open court just as the former president again seeks a second term.
The companies were both accused of rigging the 2020 election by Trump allies and conservative media outlets, despite the fact that there is no evidence of significant voter fraud. Both have filed separate lawsuits alleging defamation against Fox News, Newsmax, Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, prominent election denier Mike Lindell and his company MyPillow, and others.
In 2024, as Trump navigates the primary season and potentially a general election, too, more than 10 of these cases will be playing out in courtrooms across the country.
The litigation could force former Trump aides and allies to be deposed or testify in open court under oath, reveal new evidence about the sources of false claims of a rigged election, and continually remind voters of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results as he again seeks a second term.
The first case of its kind — Dominion’s suit against Fox News and Fox Corporation — commandeered headlines for months this year. Dominion settled for $787.5 million after litigation made thousands of pages of depositions and internal communications public. Internal text messages and emails revealed that many Fox News journalists viewed the president’s stolen election claims with derision and skepticism. One email exchange revealed that a key source behind Powell’s fraud allegations was a woman who claimed the wind talks to her and that she can time-travel, while other communications revealed that Tucker Carlson, a popular conservative prime-time television host, privately said he hated Trump.
"The same conspiracy theories, the same people, the same consequences for democracy — all of that is on deck again," said RonNell Andersen Jones, a professor at the University of Utah College of Law who specializes in the First Amendment.
Here are the four trials that could have a big effect on the election.
Smartmatic v. Mike Lindell and MyPillow
Mike Lindell was best known for hawking foam-filled pillows on infomercials before he became a prominent conservative and a vocal election denier. In 2020 and beyond, he hosted rallies, appeared on TV and repeatedly and falsely claimed that the U.S. election was stolen by rigged voting machines — all while selling his pillows. Smartmatic has sued him in Minnesota court, claiming defamation and deceptive business practices. They’re seeking damages and a retraction of the false claims.
The case could reach open court as early as April 1, though any dispositive motions — motions seeking a verdict from the bench or a dismissal of some or all of the claims — could make evidence public as early as this month. In Dominion’s Fox News case, such motions made thousands of pages of evidence public for the first time.
Smartmatic v. Newsmax Media
Smartmatic sued Newsmax Media, a conservative network and Fox News competitor, in November 2021, alleging that the news network had defamed the company. Trial is scheduled to begin June 3 in Delaware, where the company is incorporated. Dispositive motions could come in late February.
Trump allies Stephen Bannon and Michael Flynn have already received subpoenas in Smartmatic’s case against Newsmax, according to the court docket.
Dominion Voting Systems v. Newsmax Media
Dominion sued Newsmax for $1.6 billion in August 2021, also alleging defamation. A jury trial is scheduled to begin in Delaware on Sept. 30, 2024, according to a court order from Judge Eric Davis, the same Superior Court judge who presided over Dominion’s Fox News suit earlier this year. Dispositive motions must be filed by July 18. In Dominion’s suit against Fox News, they used summary judgement filings to make thousands of pages of evidence public, creating a media storm.
Dominion’s trial against Newsmax is scheduled for September 2024, according to an order from the Delaware judge, and filings that will make much of the evidence in the case public are expected in the summer.
Smartmatic v. Fox News
Smartmatic sued Fox News and Fox Corporation in February 2021 for a whopping $2.7 billion, arguing the network had turned the company into “the villain in their story” of election fraud and defamed them. The company said the network broadcast claims that its election technology was used widely around the U.S., and had been used to rig the presidential election, which in turn damaged their reputation and business.
“We will be ready to defend this case surrounding extremely newsworthy events when it goes to trial, likely in 2025," a spokesperson for Fox News said. "As a report prepared by our financial expert shows, Smartmatic’s damages claims are implausible, disconnected from reality, and on its face intended to chill First Amendment freedoms.”
Major filings, however, could land before the election.