MADISON, Wis. (CN) — President Donald Trump sued in Wisconsin’s highest court Tuesday in a go-for-broke attempt to overturn general election results in a state he lost to President-elect Joe Biden by more than 20,000 votes.
The president’s 28-page Hail Mary lawsuit was filed in the Wisconsin Supreme Court one day after the Wisconsin Elections Commission chair canvassed and Democratic Governor Tony Evers certified the Badger State as a win for Biden, who won by about the same margin Trump won the battleground by in 2016.
The petition asks the high court, composed of a 4-3 conservative majority, to toss more than 220,000 absentee ballots the Trump campaign claims were unlawfully cast and improperly counted and void the results of the 2020 election.
State law outlines that Trump needs to appeal the election results in circuit court, and it was not immediately clear on Tuesday that the supreme court would entertain his lawsuit.
Trump’s filing also comes on the heels of a recount he demanded for Milwaukee and Dane counties that wrapped up over the weekend, overall adding 87 votes to Biden’s victory. The president paid just under $3 million for the recount of Wisconsin’s two staunchest liberal strongholds, which he claimed without proof were rife with an array of fraudulent and illegal voting.
Named as defendants in the president’s latest lawsuit are Evers, the Wisconsin Elections Commission, WEC Chair Ann Jacobs and top election officials in Milwaukee and Dane counties.
Trump is represented by James Troupis from his namesake law firm in Cross Plains, a village in the Madison metro area in Dane County. Troupis previously served as a Dane County Circuit Court judge upon appointment by former Governor Scott Walker in 2015 but resigned the following year in an unsuccessful bid to be appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
While the president’s petition claims in general that “there was a pattern of activities improperly undertaken that affected the election,” it specifically takes aim at four cases Trump and his lawyers claim are incontrovertible evidence of unlawful voting.
The biggest chunk of votes Trump wants tossed are around 170,000 absentee ballots cast in person in Milwaukee and Dane counties for which voters did not properly submit an absentee ballot application, according to the petition. Clerks in these cases allowed early voters to fill out the ballot in person and sign a form on its envelope that constitutes both the ballot’s application and certificate, a practice that has been in place for more than a decade and has never faced legal objection.
Trump also wants to invalidate more than 5,500 absentee ballots for which witness address information on the certificate envelopes were fixed or “cured” by poll workers. This practice—which involves poll workers adding missing witness addresses to the envelopes by contacting the witness or finding the address in voter rolls or tax records—was put in place by Wisconsin Republicans in 2016 ahead of the president’s victory in the state and was not condemned by Trump, or anyone else, as illegal at the time or in any of the elections since then.
Also at issue in the lawsuit are 28,395 absentee ballots the campaign alleges were cast by voters falsely claiming to be indefinitely confined and 17,271 absentee ballots collected during two “Democracy in the Park” events in Madison in late September and early October, during which city clerks registered voters, accepted ballots, acted as voter witnesses and otherwise facilitated voter participation across 206 locations in the state’s capital city.
The number of voters claiming to be indefinitely confined, who do not need to provide valid state ID to vote, skyrocketed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this year refuted a Dane County clerk who advised voters they could identify as indefinitely confined due to the pandemic ahead of the chaotic April primary.
The supreme court heard arguments in lawsuits over that advice and contested registrations on the state’s voter rolls in September but did not rule in either before Nov. 3.
In a Trump campaign statement accompanying Tuesday’s lawsuit, Troupis asserted that Wisconsin voters deserve fair, legal elections and that “we know with absolute certainty illegal ballots have unduly influenced the state’s election results.”
Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani joined that statement, chiming in that “we want all legal votes and only legal votes to be counted” and that “Americans must be able to trust in our election results.”
Zero evidence of widespread fraud or unlawful voting procedures were reported by election officials in the course of Wisconsin’s recount.
Democrats from the get-go have condemned Trump’s recount effort and misinformation-based crusade to delegitimize a secure election, in part by pointing out that he only wants to overturn results in the Badger State’s two most liberal and populous counties, which are also home to the majority of Black Wisconsinites.
Under a federal safe harbor law, Wisconsin’s results will be deemed conclusive if challenges to the results are resolved by Dec. 8. The Electoral College convenes six days later and a joint session of Congress will count electoral votes and declare the election results on Jan. 6, leaving Trump in a rush to deliver himself Wisconsin via strategies that have failed in other battlegrounds Biden flipped like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Trump’s allies also filed a lawsuit seeking to undo the election results in a Wisconsin district court on Tuesday.
Sidney Powell, a Trump advocate and Texas-based attorney no longer officially affiliated with his campaign, filed a complaint in Milwaukee federal court on behalf of a voter and a Republican candidate that lost the general election race for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District seat. However, that candidate, Derrick Van Orden, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he was included in the complaint without his permission and is not involved with the legal effort.
The lawsuit makes claims of illegal votes denying Trump’s reelection similar to the president’s petition, with the addition of now familiar claims from Powell regarding an alleged scheme by election software firm Dominion Voting Systems to manipulate ballot counting in favor of Biden.
The Trump campaign publicly distanced itself from Powell more than a week ago as she made national headlines with far-fetched, byzantine claims of voter fraud and conspiracies to steal the election from Trump.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is also considering whether to take up two other lawsuits from conservatives asking the state’s highest court to throw out supposedly illegitimate election results and allow the GOP-controlled Wisconsin Legislature to divvy up the state’s 10 electoral votes.
One of the lawsuits contests 156,807 votes the Wisconsin Voters Alliance claims were illegally cast, in addition to $6 million in grants the nonprofit Center for Technology and Civic Life—an organization funded to the tune of $350 million by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg—gave to the cities of Racine, Madison, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Green Bay to conduct their elections.
The other comes from a Chippewa County voter who wants the high court to invalidate any ballots cast via drop boxes throughout the state and establish that the WEC had no authority to create the more than 500 drop boxes in the first place.Follow @@cnsjkelly
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