Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Gov. Tony Evers has signed a certificate of ascertainment certifying Joe Biden as the winner of Wisconsin’s presidential election.

The move comes after state Elections Commission Chair Ann Jacobs, a Dem, yesterday afternoon signed off on the results of county canvasses and recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties.

According to a commission spokesman, the agency then sent the signed canvass determination and an unsigned draft ascertainment document to the guv. Evers in the evening announced he “signed the Certificate of Ascertainment for the slate of electors for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”

In making the “determination of the recount and the presidential contest” Jacobs yesterday opened a five-day window for the Trump campaign to launch an appeal. According to Meagan Wolfe, the state’s top election official, the court system has the power to modify both the canvass determination and the statement of ascertainment during the appeal process.

A Republican member of the commission says the agency, Evers and the Department of Justice “all colluded to violate the law.”

Commissioner Dean Knudson, a former Republican lawmaker and commission chair, tweeted Wolfe sent commissioners an email indicating Jacobs’ determination “does not result in the issuance of a certificate of election.”

Knudson in his tweet thread also cited state statute mandating in presidential elections, “the commission shall prepare a certificate showing the determination of the results of the canvass and the names of the persons elected.” Those elements were included in the canvass statement document that Jacobs signed and sent to Evers, but she was the only member of the panel present at yesterday’s meeting.

Commission spokesman Reid Magney told WisPolitics.com the unsigned ascertainment document became a certificate of ascertainment after Evers signed it. According to Magney, only the governor has the power to issue a certificate in a presidential election.

Magney also said the section of state law requiring “the commission” to prepare the certificate has long been interpreted as a reference to the commission staff. He noted the moves from Jacobs yesterday replicated the commission’s actions in certifying President Trump’s victory in 2016.

“We did exactly [the] same thing four years ago when then-Chair Mark Thomsen signed the canvass statement and we sent that and the unsigned, draft ascertainment document to Governor Walker so he could sign/certify it for President-Elect Trump as soon as possible,” Magney said in an email.

Thomsen, a Dem, is still a member of the commission.

Knudson didn’t return a message last night seeking further comment on his tweet thread.

See Knudson’s tweet:
https://twitter.com/deanknudson/status/1333571420232802304

See Evers’ statement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2020/gov-evers-certifies-2020-general-election-results/

See the signed canvass statement:
https://elections.wi.gov/sites/elections.wi.gov/files/2020-11/Jacobs%20-%20Signed%20Canvass%20for%20President%20-%20Vice%20President.pdf

See the relevant state statutes:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/7/ii/70/5/b
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/7/ii/70/3/d

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