11/13 Daily Update: Protecting the Results in the Face of Meritless Claims

This Friday the 13th, luck had nothing to do with it. Hard work and smart strategy delivered big wins for democracy in courtrooms across the country, as state leaders protected the results of our election.

In case you missed it, The Hill printed additional coverage of Wednesday’s VPP press briefing with current and former state attorneys general. In national news, reporters refuted the false claims of voter fraud levied by the Trump campaign and its supporters. 

VPP is sharing messaging guidance in response to  “Stop the Steal” rallies planned for this weekend, which protest the legitimacy of the voters’ choice for president. And don’t miss our State Leaders Spotlight section for the rundown on what leaders are doing to protect our democratic process!

Social Media

Make sure you’ve followed and set alerts for the Voter Protection Program on Twitter to stay updated on the latest voter protection news. There, you can share our most recent video, a short montage of past candidates for president conceding defeat. Please retweet, quote tweet, and share with people in your networks. 

Additionally, here you’ll find our most recent social media toolkit that reflects our latest messaging and guidance.

National News

Fact-checking Voter Fraud Claims: Hours after Trump repeated a baseless report that a voting machine system “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide,” he was directly contradicted by a group of federal, state, and local election officials working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In a statement on Thursday, the officials declared that the 2020 general election “was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence” of compromised voting systems.

‘Purely outlandish stuff’: POLITICO’s Marc Caputo detailed the barrage of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign challenging the 2020 election results. The piece looks at how the Trump campaign has lost nearly all of the cases that have been decided so far. Read the full piece here.

State Updates

Arizona: After an audit of the vote revealed no irregularities at all, Maricopa County has no plans to conduct a full audit or hand recount of all ballots cast in the 2020 general election, despite baseless demands by President Trump and some Arizona Republicans. Read more here.

Georgia: Today NBC officially called Georgia for President-elect Joe Biden, bringing his expected Electoral College vote tally to 306 — the same number of electoral votes that President Trump received in 2016. The statewide manual audit of paper ballots in Georgia started today and must finish by Wednesday.

Minnesota:  Attorney General Keith Ellison led a coalition of 23 state attorneys general in a letter responding to  the new DOJ memorandum allowing federal prosecutors to overtly investigate allegations of voter fraud before votes are certified. AG Ellison called on the department to respect the will of the people and reverse its decision promptly. Read more here.

North Carolina: Today networks officially called North Carolina for Trump.  The presidential race in North Carolina was not close enough for either candidate to request a recount, though other statewide races were.

Pennsylvania: Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will not order a recount and recanvass of the election returns, since President-elect Biden won the state by more than the .5% recount margin. Meanwhile, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, the law firm leading the Trump campaign’s efforts to challenge the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, abruptly withdrew from a federal lawsuit that it had filed on behalf of the campaign. Read more here.

Legal Corner

A full rundown of post-Election Day litigation is here. Today’s developments included:

The End of Sharpiegate: We may have seen the last of the legal Sharpiegate challenges to President-elect Biden’s victory in Arizona. On the same day that remaining holdouts called Arizona for Biden, the Trump campaign’s lawyers walked away from a challenge to so-called “overvotes” in Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest. The case was known to aficionados of farcical litigation as Sharpiegate II, and to the courts as Donald J. Trump for President Inc. v. Hobbs, No. CV2020-014248 (Maricopa County Superior Court). It grew out of the viral falsehood that Republican voters in Arizona’s largest county had been given Sharpie markers to fill out their ballots. Ballots marked with Sharpies, the (false) story went, were read by the county’s scanners as “overvotes’ ‘ and spoiled. But testimony yesterday revealed that Sharpie votes were indeed counted in Maricopa and that there were fewer than 200 presidential overvotes in the entire county. This morning, Trump’s lawyers filed a pleading acknowledging that their claim as to the presidential election is  moot and should no longer be decided by the court. 

“Incorrect and Not Credible”: A Michigan county judge today denied Trump supporters’ request to block Detroit’s vote count, deriding claims of voting irregularities as “incorrect and not credible.” The plaintiffs sued to enjoin the certification of the election results in Michigan’s Wayne County pending a full investigation and independent audit of the election results. But the court found that poll watchers’ claims of election problems were largely a product of ignorance and misunderstanding. Because they had skipped poll watcher training, they misinterpreted what they saw and wrongly ascribed “sinister, fraudulent motives” to a fundamentally accurate and fair process. The embarrassing loss is captioned Costantino v. City of Detroit, No. 20-014780-AW (Wayne County Circuit Court).

“The Lawfully Cast Vote of Every Citizen Must Count”: A federal appeals court unanimously slapped down an appeal by a few Pennsylvania voters and a Republican Congressional candidate who tried to exclude approximately 10,000 timely-mailed ballots that were received after the close of polls and before November 6. (The ballots do not matter to the results of the election in Pennsylvania, which President-elect Biden won by about 63,000 votes.) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to sue, since counting the ballots could not injure them. In denying the appeal, the court specifically noted its “commitment to a proposition indisputable in our democratic process: that the lawfully cast vote of every citizen must count.” The case, which wise lawyers would interpret as a warning against more frivolous litigation in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, is Bognet v. Boockvar, No. 20-3214 (3d Cir.). 

Messaging Guidance: “Stop the Steal” Rallies

  • Like every election in our lifetimes, this election was secure and fair, and nothing will change the outcome. Joe Biden will be the next president.
  • We understand that some people are disappointed in the election results. But the American people have spoken, and it is time to move forward as a country.
  • Everyone has the right to peacefully express themselves in our democracy, and that is what we call for this weekend.
  • Law enforcement will not tolerate violence or civil unrest. Make no mistake about it: we are determined to keep any public demonstrations safe for all those who wish to participate.
  • This president and his supporters have repeatedly attempted to incite violence from extremist groups. If there’s any attempt to create chaos or cause violence, we will take immediate action. 
  • The bottom line is this: law enforcement leaders, elected officials, and community leaders alike are ready to protect the people as we always have.

State Leaders Spotlight

Below you will find a roundup of messaging by state attorneys general this week around protecting the results of our fair, secure, and accurate election:

Arizona

  • In a letter to Republican state legislative leaders, the chief deputy and chief of staff for AG Brnovich  wrote that there is no legal basis to insist on “precinct” auditing.

Connecticut

  • AG Tong assured voters “this election was fair, legal, transparent, and accurate. Voters decided this outcome. Not the candidates. Not the courts.”

Massachusetts

  • AG Healey thanked “public servants who stand up for our free and fair elections.”

Michigan

  • AG Nessel reminded voters that “candidates don’t get to pick the winners. The voters do” and issued a statement in response to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr’s recent memo that allows inappropriate federal meddling with the vote counting process.

Pennsylvania

  • AG Shapiro reminded voters: “We just had an election, an election that was secure, an election where the votes were tallied. A proper winner will be certified, based not on the words of President Trump, but the votes of the American people.”

Latest from VPP