A unanimous federal appeals court today rejected Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn Wisconsin’s election results, the latest legal setback for the president and his allies.
The 7th Circuit shot down Trump’s appeal on two fronts, including the belief that the president waited too long to raise challenges to the way Wisconsin’s election was conducted. It also ruled Trump’s suit failed on the merits
Trump had argued the Legislature’s authority was usurped by the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s advice to local clerks that they could fill in missing information for witnesses on absentee ballots and that drop boxes could be used to collect absentee ballots. He also challenged votes cast by those who claimed they were indefinitely confined due to age, infirmary or illness. That status allows voters to avoid having to provide a photo ID in casting their absentee ballot.
But the 7th Circuit noted Trump had the opportunity before the election to challenge the provisions, but didn’t. Having passed up that opportunity before the election, Trump cannot now challenge those decisions, the court found.
The guidance on missing witness information, for example, has been in place for four years, while the Elections Commission guidance on indefinitely confined votes was issued in March, and the agency endorsed the use of drop boxes in August.
“Allowing the President to raise his arguments, at this late date, after Wisconsin has tallied the votes and certified the election outcome, would impose unquestionable harm on the defendants, and the State’s voters, many of whom cast ballots in reliance on the guidance, procedures, and practices that the President challenges here,” the court ruled. “The President’s delay alone is
enough to warrant affirming the district court’s judgment.”
The ruling was the latest setback for Trump and his allies in their efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. It is the ninth lawsuit that’s been rejected on various grounds by a Racine County reserve judge, the Wisconsin Supreme Court and various federal courts.
In this case, U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig rejected Trump’s argument that the decisions by the Elections Commission had usurped the authority of the Legislature to set Wisconsin’s standards. The suit sought to overturn the results and have the GOP-controlled state Legislature appoint the state’s electors.
The 7th Circuit affirmed Ludwig was correct in his decision.
The appeals court also noted Wisconsin’s Supreme Court had rejected several of the challenges that Trump lodged in federal court.
“We are not the ultimate authority on Wisconsin law,” the court wrote. “That responsibility rests with the State’s Supreme Court. Put another way, the errors that the President alleges occurred in the Commission’s exercise of its authority are in the main matters of state law. They belong, then, in the state courts, where the President had an opportunity to raise his concerns.”
There are still two lawsuits pending that seek to overturn Wisconsin’s election results. Former Trump attorney Sidney Powll filed a suit that was rejected by a U.S. District Court judge in Milwaukee, but is now on appeal before the 7th Circuit. Meanwhile, two GOP state lawmakers have joined a lawsuit filed in the Washington, D.C., district court.