President Trump’s campaign late today filed a federal lawsuit accusing Wisconsin officials of violating the law in conducting the Nov. 3 election and seeking an order that could allow the GOP-controlled Legislature to appoint the state’s presidential electors.
The suit, the second the Trump campaign has filed seeking to reverse Joe Biden’s win in Wisconsin, largely focuses on the flood of absentee ballots cast in the Nov. 3 election amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It alleges the way the ballots were collected, processed and counted violated standards set by the state Legislature.
It seeks an order allowing the Legislature to determine a remedy for Wisconsin officials conducting “an unconstitutional and unlawful Presidential election.” That includes “any impact upon the allocation of Presidential electors for the State of Wisconsin.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, one of the defendants in the suit, slammed the effort to overturn the election results as another example of the president “flailing” and being unable to come to terms with the fact he is “the loser” of the election.
“I think that they’re totally unhinged. This is an assault on democracy, plain and simple,” Barrett said.
The Trump campaign has filed similar suits in other swing states with no success so far in overturning Biden’s wins.
Trump attorney and senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis said the suit “reveals an apparently coordinated effort to push a new form of balloting upon Wisconsin voters that was not protected by uniform chain of custody and security standards and protocols.”
Wisconsin approved no-excuse absentee voting in 2000. Ellis argued the rules of “the election were changed at the last minute and guardrails against fraud were simultaneously lowered.”
The federal suit comes as Trump has already asked the state Supreme Court to throw out more than 221,000 ballots in heavily Dem Dane and Milwaukee counties. That request is still pending before the justices.
The federal suit seeks a hearing within 48 hours and a timeline that would allow the case to be resolved by Dec. 11, three days before the Electoral College is scheduled to meet.
In focusing on the more than 1.2 million absentee ballots cast in the Nov. 3 election, Trump’s campaign argues election officials usurped the Legislature’s authority in how they conducted the election and failed to heed to strict standards it argues lawmakers set for mail-in ballots.
The suit raises some of the same issues that Trump’s campaign is now arguing before the state Supreme Court. That includes that the Wisconsin Elections Commission improperly directed local clerks to fill in missing information on absentee ballot envelopes such as a witness’ zip code.
It also accuses the commission of providing advice on whether voters can claim indefinitely confined status during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who meet the standard and claim the status aren’t required to provide a copy of their photo ID to obtain an absentee ballot.
The suit claims the Elections Commission lacked the power to issue the guidance and in essence changed Wisconsin election law without the Legislature’s approval.
It also raises new arguments, including that local officials illegally used drop boxes to collect absentee ballots and then counted them outside the visibility of poll watchers.