Trump Files Suit Against Wisconsin Elections Commission in US Supreme Court

December 31, 2020 Updated: December 31, 2020

President Donald Trump on Wednesday filed an election-related appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to declare the Wisconsin election unconstitutional and order the legislature to appoint a different slate of electors who would cast their votes for Trump.

Citing “multiple violations of law,” the lawsuit (pdf) asks the Supreme Court to void the Wisconsin election and order the state legislature to nominate electors in line with Article II, Sec 1.2 of the U.S. Constitution. Trump lost the battleground state to Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden by about 21,000 votes, according to official records.

The complaint alleges that, during the 2020 presidential election, “the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) and local election officials implemented unauthorized, illegal absentee voting drop boxes, compelled illegal corrections to absentee ballot witness certificates by poll workers, and encouraged widespread voter misuse of ‘indefinitely confined’ status to avoid voter ID laws, all in disregard of the Legislature’s explicit command to ‘carefully regulate’ the absentee voting process.” It also alleges that “tens of thousands of invalid absentee ballots” were received and counted in violation of Wisconsin election laws.

The allegations have been addressed in general terms by the Wisconsin Elections Commission in a series of statements on its website, including around the use of drop boxes, ballot curing, and “indefinitely confined” status.

“We understand that some voters still have questions about how the election was conducted and how the winners were determined,” said Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the WEC and Wisconsin’s chief election official, in a statement. “It’s our job to answer those questions with facts and to explain what procedures Wisconsin’s election officials use to follow state election laws,” she added.

An appeals court on Dec. 24 dismissed Trump’s contest-of-election lawsuit on the basis of an unreasonable delay in filing the suit, known as the doctrine of “laches,” and upheld an earlier district court ruling that found Trump’s initial lawsuit “lacked merit, as he objected only to the administration of the election.”

“On the merits, the district court was right to enter judgment for the defendants,” the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its ruling (pdf). “We reach this conclusion in no small part because of the President’s delay in bringing the challenges to Wisconsin law that provide the foundation for the alleged constitutional violation. Even apart from the delay, the claims fail under the Electors Clause,” the appeals court added.

However, the court also concluded that Trump’s complaint “presents a federal question, despite its anchoring in alleged violations of state law,” paving the way for the case to be brought before the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration.

“The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals specifically held that if the Trump Campaign proved its case, it could void the election as ‘failed,’ and order decertification of the Biden electors, requiring the Wisconsin legislature to appoint electors,” the Trump campaign said in a statement.

“In Wisconsin, guardrails against fraud were repeatedly lowered by unelected bureaucrats who changed the rules on the eve of the election without authority to do so,” Bill Bock, a Trump attorney, said in a statement.

Bock said the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is asking for the high court “to find these last-minute changes unconstitutional and conclude that they make it impossible to determine which candidate received the most valid votes.”

“Nothing is more important to our national fabric and our future than integrity in our electoral process. This lawsuit is one step in the direction of fairer, more transparent, more professional, and ultimately more reliable elections in America,” Bock said.

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