12/4 Daily Update: State Courts Uphold Popular Will, Reject False Fraud Claims

Today, courts in three states — Arizona, Minnesota, and Nevada — rejected election contest lawsuits from Donald Trump and his supporters aimed at overriding the popular will.

Meanwhile, Governor William Weld, VPP National Director Joanna Lydgate, and VPP Outside Counsel Norm Eisen published a USA Today op-ed this morning celebrating U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr’s conclusion that there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election: “Barr finally met a Trump lie he couldn’t swallow. This is a defining development in the saga of the 2020 election.” They argue that the strength of our election system drove Barr’s conclusion. The state governors, attorneys general, election officials, poll workers, and voters who showed up in record numbers to elect leaders from both parties, up and down the ballot, protect our democratic system from those who would seek to upend it for their own gain. Read the op-ed in USA Today here.

Starting this evening, Fox News will be airing an ad released by the VPP affirming the election results and urging the Trump campaign and GOP lawmakers to respect the vote in light of Barr’s determination. The ad is also running digitally in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Click here to watch the ad, titled Together.”

National Update

Georgia On My Mind: Donald Trump is set to host a Saturday rally in Georgia amid concerns he is discouraging Republicans from turning out to vote in a critical runoff contest by attacking top GOP officials and falsely claiming that fraud and voting-machine irregularities cost him the November election. Read more here.

Line up the Losses: The daily drumbeat of legal losses for President Trump continued on Thursday and Friday as he and his allies once again hit roadblocks. Despite the steady stream of legal defeats in Arizona, Nevada, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Trump and his allies pressed forward with their attempts to open new fronts and roll back President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Read more here and check out the legal corner below.

Looking Toward a Post-Trump Democracy: It’s too early to think about a post-Trump America, but not too soon to think about a post-Trump democracy, writes Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria. He argues that lawmakers should use this moment to pass new laws that require a smooth and peaceful presidential transition moving forward. Read more here.

State Updates

Georgia: Georgia completed the statewide recount requested by the Trump campaign. As expected, the recount showed what the initial count and a statewide manual audit already told us: President-elect Joe Biden won the state by about 12,000 votes. Meanwhile, election officials are investigating the actions of a conservative Florida lawyer who they say tried to register to vote in a high-stakes runoff in Georgia that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. They say he was also captured on video urging other Floridians to do the same. Read more here.

Legal Corner

Three more states cleared important hurdles today, as the last remaining state court presidential election contests were dismissed in Arizona, Minnesota and Nevada. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to entertain yet another attempt to reverse the will of the people.

Today’s developments included:

Arizona Election Contest Dismissed: This afternoon, an Arizona state court judge denied an election contest brought by the head of state’s Republican party.

The court began taking testimony in the case yesterday, and continued hearing evidence this well into today. After considering all of the challenger’s evidence, the court ruled definitively: “The Court finds no misconduct, no fraud, and no effect on the outcome of the election.”

President-elect Joe Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes, and the governor has already sent the certificate of ascertainment — formally naming Biden’s electors — to the National Archivist. The case is Ward v. Jackson, 2020-15285 (Az. Sup.).

Minnesota Election Contest Dismissed: A unanimous Minnesota Supreme Court today dismissed Trump supporters’ attempt to stop the state from certifying its electors for President-elect Biden. Also today, the National Archivist received and logged Minnesota’s official certificate of ascertainment, allocating its 10 electors to Biden. Biden won the state by more than 7% of the vote, or more than 230,000 votes.

On November 24, after the state certified the election for Biden, a handful of Republican election deniers asked the state Supreme Court to block the certification and order a recount. The deniers alleged problems with the state’s absentee and mail balloting. But it was too late: The deniers knew about the absentee and mail balloting rules well before the election, and did not complain until after their candidate lost.

The case was Kistner v. Simon, A20-1486 (Minn.).

Nevada Election Contest Dismissed: In a thorough and detailed opinion, a Nevada trial court today threw out a Trump campaign election contest. Trump and his allies have no outstanding litigation to challenge Joe Biden’s victory in Nevada.

Here’s the backstory. President-elect Joe Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes. After the count was finalized, the failed slate of Republican electors sued. They asked a state court to shift the state’s electoral votes to Trump or else void the election altogether. The judge heard testimony yesterday, and ruled this afternoon.

After carefully reviewing all of the evidence before it, the trial court definitively found “that there is no credible or reliable evidence that the 2020 General Election in Nevada was affected by fraud.” The court also found no evidence of misconduct; illegal votes; or the malfunctioning of electronic systems.

If the plaintiffs appeal, their case will be heard by the state Supreme Court. The case is Law v. Whitmer, No. 20-OC-00163B(First Judicial District Court, Carson City).

0-3 at the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Two days ago, Donald Trump and his supporters had three cases pending decision at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. All were “original actions” — requests to jump the line and put their cases directly before the state’s highest court, without following the usual rules that require starting in the lower courts.

As of tonight, the election deniers are 0-3. By a 4-3 vote, the state Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Justice Brian Hagedorn, writing for the majority, recoiled at the petitioners’ undemocratic request to reverse the entire election in Wisconsin, noting: “This petition falls far short of the kind of compelling evidence and legal support we would undoubtedly need to countenance the court-ordered disenfranchisement of every Wisconsin voter. The petition does not even justify the exercise of our original jurisdiction.” The case was Wisconsin Voters Alliance v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, No. 2020AP1930-OA (Wisc.).

State Leaders Spotlight

Michigan

  • AG Nessel assured voters that she is up to the task of protecting against election fraud.

Minnesota

  • AG Ellison declared a big win for democracy following the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling today.

North Carolina

  • AG Stein commended the North Carolina Board of Elections for their successful efforts in enabling a safe and fair election.

Nevada

  • AG Ford emphasized that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. “It’s easy to spew nonsense in the press and on social media. It’s a different story when you have to prove it in court.”

Pennsylvania

  • Lt. Gov. John Fetterman pointed out that “perhaps the most important election ‘guardrails’ are just decent, honest people willing to tell + uphold the truth.”

Key Events and Deadlines

For ongoing tracking of progress in battleground states, check our resource here. For a calendar of key upcoming events, check out our timeline here.

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