11/20 Daily Update: No Take Backsies in Michigan

The fight to preserve the integrity of the election results continues! Today, Michigan GOP lawmakers met with President Trump at the White House and affirmed their commitment to honoring the will of the people. Meanwhile, Georgia’s Governor and Secretary of State certified results that reflect President-elect Biden’s win in the state.

The Voter Protection Program hosted a briefing today to provide updates on recent events in Michigan and ongoing election litigation in key states. The recording is available here, and the briefing was quoted in news outlets including: Associated Press, Detroit Free Press, The Washington PostChicago Tribune, The Spin (Chicago Tribune Newsletter)Holland Sentinel, and NBC News.

Speakers included Joanna Lydgate, National Director of the Voter Protection Program; Jennifer Granholm, former two-term Governor and former Attorney General of Michigan; Christine Todd Whitman, former Governor of New Jersey and VPP Advisory Board member; and Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Governor Whitman called Trump’s efforts to undermine the results of the election: “The actions of a third-world dictator. It is not who we are as Americans, and we do not want the public coming away from this thinking this is the norm. There is no basis for trying to overturn this.”

Message guidance is included below on the latest developments in Michigan. And don’t miss our weekly state leaders spotlight section! Here’s your update:

National Updates

Visualizing Certification: The New York Times put together a helpful visual aid to track which states have certified presidential vote totals. The Trump Campaign’s strategy has been to try — unsuccessfully — to delay the certification processes in these states. Read more here.

NAACP: Black voters in Detroit and a voting rights group, represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, are suing Trump in federal court, accusing him of violating the Voting Rights Act by trying to undermine the election results in Michigan. The news broke tonight. More here from Buzzfeed.

The Call is Coming from Inside the House! In the weeks before the U.S. presidential election, federal authorities warned that Russia or other foreign countries might spread false information to discredit the legitimacy of the outcome. It turns out that the disinformation superspreader was not Russia, but President Donald Trump, who has trumpeted a blizzard of thoroughly debunked claims to suggest that he, not President-elect Biden, was the rightful winner. Read more from AP News here.

State Updates

Georgia: Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified results today showing that Joe Biden won the state’s presidential race, and its 16 electors, by 12,284 votes. Read more here.

Michigan Madness:  Michigan’s top Republican lawmakers arrived at the White House this afternoon to meet with President Trump, amid condemnations of the President’s baseless allegations of widespread fraud and his attempt to delay their state’s certification of the vote. Election law experts say his contacts with Michigan Republicans raise serious ethical and legal concerns. Read more here.  After leaving the White House, the lawmakers released a statement, re-committing to honor the will of Michigan voters.

Also this afternoon, the attorney for the Wayne County Board of Canvassers released a memo explaining that board members can’t rescind their votes. The legal opinion came on the heels of an attempt by the four-member board’s two Republicans to take back their votes to certify the heavily Democratic county’s vote totals.

Nevada:  ANevada judge declined to order a new election in Clark County and Las Vegas for a Republican congressional candidate who lost by nearly 5% to an incumbent Democrat. Clark County District Court Judge Gloria Sturman pointed to a 33,000-vote margin that would have been needed to overtake U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford in the state’s most populous county, and said she lacked jurisdiction to order do-overs in six other counties in what she called the “geographically enormous” congressional district. Read more here.

Legal Update

States are busy finalizing counts and certifying results, and legal housecleaning continues. (You can read a rundown of significant post-Election Day cases here.)

Yesterday, a federal judge rejected a lawsuit’s attempt to block Georgia’s certification, and this afternoon the Secretary of State and Governor both certified President-elect Biden’s victory. Today, Arizona brushed off its last outstanding election-related lawsuit, and shortly afterwards Democrats and Republicans on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to certify the election results.

Every cloud has a silver lining, though. The dismissal was probably the last we’ll see of Sharpiegate.

Let’s review:

Right after Election Day, Arizona voter Laurie Aguilera filed a lawsuit claiming that her vote was not counted because she used the Sharpie marker that poll workers gave her to fill out her ballot. She quickly dropped her suit. This was the mercifully quick debacle known as Sharpiegate I, or Aguilera v. Fontes, No. CV2020-01408 (Maricopa County Superior Court).

It got Sharpier. A day after Sharpiegate I was dismissed, Donald Trump and the national and Arizona Republican parties brought a suit claiming that ballots marked with Sharpies were not properly tabulated at Maricopa County polling stations. The plaintiff from Sharpiegate I tried to join in. But the judge wasn’t having it, since that plaintiff had already had her bite at the apple. Trump’s case was also dismissed, this time by the court after a hearing produced no evidence for the plaintiffs’ claims. This was Sharpiegate II, street name Donald J. Trump for President Inc. v. Hobbs, No. CV2020-014248 (Maricopa County Superior Court).

Now, Sharpiegate III has gone to sleep with its fathers. Returning for this latest installment in the series was Laurie Aguilera. She claimed, once again, that problems with the tabulation machines prevented her vote from being counted. The problem is that she couldn’t actually show that her vote wasn’t counted. So the relief she sought – voting again – was inappropriate, because voting twice is a crime. After an evidentiary hearing, a very patient Maricopa County judge dismissed the case this evening “for many, many reasons.” The case is Aguilera v. Fontes, No. CV2020-014562 (Maricopa County Superior Court).

State Leaders Spotlight

Below you will find a roundup of state AGs’ activities around voter protection and reassuring voters of the strength of our democratic process.

Massachusetts

  • AG Healey decried President Trump’s termination of cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs: “[T]he President fired Christopher Krebs for doing his job—ensuring a free and fair election.”
  • AG Healey also raised concerns that the President’s pressure on Michigan lawmakers could implicate criminal laws.

Michigan

  • AG Nessel emphasized that “Michigan’s elections have been fair and transparent. It is time to set the politics aside.”

Minnesota

Nevada

  • AG Ford assured voters “the people decide elections, not politicians — whether current, former or aspiring.”

Pennsylvania

Message Guidance: Michigan Update

Following the statement from Michigan’s Majority Leader Shirkey and Speaker Chatfield after their White House visit this evening, we developed the below additional talking points in response.

  • Majority Leader Shirkey and Speaker Chatfield know Michigan. They were elected by the same people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and Joe Biden two weeks ago.
  • They live among the election administrators who ensured that this year’s vote was free, fair, and accurate.
  • And I’m so heartened to see that their meeting with the President did not change their commitment to honor the will of Michigan voters.
  • Michigan voters have been clear: Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. They elected Biden by a margin fourteen times that of President Trump’s victory in 2016.
  • The Trump Campaign has not produced any evidence that would alter that outcome.
  • And, as Shirkey and Chatfield acknowledged today, Michigan law requires the legislature to award the state’s electors to the candidate who received the greatest number of popular votes.
  • There is much that divides us in this country, but a shared commitment to the democratic process continues to bind us. This year, voters chose President-Elect Biden. It’s time to honor that choice.

Key Vote Counting Deadlines in Battleground States

As a rule, a state’s election results are complete after all counties finish their counts and state-level officials formally certify the statewide results. The official counting process is sometimes called a “canvass,” and the official who is responsible for finalizing the results varies by state. States will try to complete their counts this year before Dec. 8, with electors set to meet and vote for president on Dec.14.

Arizona         

  • 11/23: Counties complete their canvasses
  • 11/30: Secretary of State formally canvasses returns and completes the statewide count

Georgia         

  • 11/20: The secretary of state and governor both certified the results of the statewide count
  • The losing candidate, Donald Trump, has until 11/24 to request a machine recount

Michigan      

  • 11/23: Date set for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify the statewide result

Nevada         

  • 11/24: State Supreme Court meets with the Secretary of State to canvass the vote and finalize the formal results

Pennsylvania

  • 11/23: Last day for county boards of elections to complete their counts
  • Pennsylvania has no deadline for certifying the statewide count

Wisconsin     

  • 12/1: Last day for chairperson of Wisconsin Elections Commission to certify results

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