Trump Sues Again, This Time in Milwaukee and Dane Counties
Trump campaign now has three suits pending to overturn Wisconsin's election.
President Donald Trump‘s campaign didn’t let Thursday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court rejection end his quest to overturn the state’s election results. The Trump campaign filed two new suits, one each in the Milwaukee County and Dane County circuit courts. It still has a pending challenge in federal court as well.
Trump’s petition to have the Wisconsin Supreme Court immediately hear its case was rejected Thursday on a 4-3 vote. The petition sought to have approximately 221,000 absentee ballots in the two counties rejected, ignoring similar conditions in counties that went for Trump. The campaign previously wired the state $3 million to pay for a recount only in the state’s two most populous counties.
“Even if this court has constitutional authority to hear the case straightaway, notwithstanding the statutory text, the briefing reveals important factual disputes that are best managed by a circuit court,” wrote Justice Brian Hagedorn in a concurring opinion. “Following the law is not disregarding our duty, as some of the colleagues suggest. It is following the law.” Hagedorn voted not to hear the case alongside Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca F. Dallet and Jill Karofsky.
Dissenting Chief Justice Patience Roggensack said the body could have held the case while a circuit court ruled on issues of fact. “I agree that the circuit court should examine the record presented during the canvasses to make factual findings where legal challenges to the vote turn on questions of fact. However, I dissent because I would grant the petition for original action, refer for necessary factual findings to the circuit court, who would then report its factual findings to us, and we would decide the important legal questions presented,” she wrote.
Rebecca Bradley, in a dissent that was joined by Roggensack and Annette Ziegler, was critical of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. “Allowing six unelected commissioners to make the law governing elections, without the consent of the governed, deals a death blow to democracy,” she wrote. The Commission was created by Republicans in 2015 and all of its members are appointed by elected officials.
Trump’s campaign is being represented on the state cases by Jim Troupis, who also represented Trump in the Dane County recount. As part of the campaign’s legal challenge, Troupis is trying to have his own vote tossed because — based upon what the campaign alleges constitutes an illegal vote — it was cast illegally.
The new suits will allow the campaign to pursue often overlapping arguments in each jurisdiction before the cases likely end up with the Wisconsin Supreme Court on appeal.
The largest category Trump’s state suit targeted was in-person absentee ballots (commonly called “early voting”) because it said there is not a separate application. During the recount, Milwaukee County officials noted that the ballot envelope has the words “application” printed on it and a special mark to note that the voter requested it. Early voting is a long-standing practice in Wisconsin elections.
Trump also sought to have all “mismatched ink” absentee envelopes and related votes tossed. In this case, poll workers, under state commission guidance, completed addresses on absentee envelopes where the witness may have written a street address, but not a city or state (or similar partial address scenarios). To accept the ballots the witness signature was required to be present and the partial address had to be trackable to a specific, valid address.
The lawsuit offered a very specific fourth challenge. The City of Madison held Democracy in the Park voting events on two weekends in advance of in-person absentee voting. At the events, voters were able to return previously-requested ballots to clerks, but were not able to request, receive and return a ballot on the same day, as they would during in-person absentee voting. Wisconsin Elections Commission executive director Meagan Wolfe said in October she didn’t believe the event violated any laws. The campaign said any ballots returned during the events should be tossed.
Biden defeated Trump by 20,682 votes in Wisconsin according to the state’s certified canvas.
The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on December 14th.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court also voted 4-3 Thursday not to hear a case brought by Karen Mueller on behalf of her husband Dean Mueller. The petition sought to throw out the election because drop boxes used by municipalities to accept returned absentee ballots. “This court cannot continue to shirk its institutional responsibilities to the people of Wisconsin,” wrote dissenters Roggensack, Ziegler and Rebecca Bradley in the only written opinion provided with the ruling.
UPDATE: On Friday the courts consolidated the two cases into one case in Milwaukee County.
Having trouble keeping them all straight? Cases are listed in the order filed.
- Wisconsin Voters Alliance petition – case is pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court
- Mueller dropbox petition – rejected by Wisconsin Supreme Court
- Trump campaign Wisconsin Supreme Court petition – rejected by Wisconsin Supreme Court
- Sidney Powell “massive election fraud” federal petition – pending
- Trump campaign federal suit – pending
- Trump Milwaukee County suit – newly filed
- Trump Dane County suit – merged into Milwaukee suit
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