A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a challenge by President Donald Trump’s campaign, seeking to invalidate more than 200,000 ballots cast for President-elect Joe Biden and have Republican electors cast the state’s electoral votes.
The three-judge panel of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the Trump campaign’s challenge, which stated the Wisconsin Election Commission violated the Constitution by changing voting practices involving, early in-person voting, absentee drop boxes and indefinitely confined voters.
“The president has had a full opportunity before the election to press the very challenges to Wisconsin law underlying his present claims,” Judge Michael Scudder Jr., a Trump appointee, wrote in the decision. “Having foregone that opportunity, he cannot now — after the election results have been certified as final — seek to bring those challenges. All of this is especially so given that the Commission announced well in advance of the election the guidance he now challenges.”
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Wisconsin election officials and Gov. Tony Evers certified Biden’s win on Nov. 30 and the state’s electors gathered in Madison on Dec. 14 to cast its 10 electoral votes for Biden.
The court added that it was not its role to enforce the details of state law.
“Whatever actions the Commission took here, it took under color of authority expressly granted to it by the Legislature. And that authority is not diminished by allegations that the Commission erred in its exercise,” wrote Scudder.
The changes featured in the challenge included voters who were permitted to vote without providing photo ID by declaring themselves, “indefinitely confined” due to age or disability amid the COVID-19 pandemic with a witness’ signature on the ballot envelope replacing the photo ID requirement. Another was all in-person absentee ballots, with petitioners alleging they should be invalidated since they weren’t a “written application.” Third, the Trump campaign alleged municipal officials improperly added witness information on ballots. And fourth, they alleged all ballots collected at “Democracy in the Park,” two City of Madison events in the fall were cast illegally.
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4-3 to dismiss the suit, with the decision split between three liberal-backed and three conservative-backed justices with conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn delivering the majority opinion.
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