11/08 Weekend Update: Protecting the Election Results
Yesterday the election was called for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Celebrations erupted across the country, while President Trump’s refusal to concede raised concerns about a smooth transition of power. World leaders and all living former U.S. Presidents have congratulated President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on the victory.
Today, the VPP was mentioned by Jennfer Rubin in The Washington Post as one of the groups that worked “on a bipartisan basis to educate the public and election officials, anticipate and shut down attempts to intimidate voters, beat back a raft of specious legal claims from the Trump team and defend the sanctity of elections.” Read more here.
Here’s your weekend update:
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Statement on Presidential Election Results
Yesterday , the Voter Protection Program (VPP) released the following statement from members of VPP’s Bipartisan Advisory Board on the 2020 Presidential Election:
“The American people have spoken—and in America, we respect that. The results are clear—Joe Biden will win both a majority of the Electoral College and a majority of the popular vote. Every legal vote is the voice of an Americana voter. The will of the American people must be upheld. We congratulate the nation’s state and local officials on carefully administering a safe and secure election. They are the unsung heroes of our democracy. Now, we look forward to finalizing the process and a peaceful transition of power. As former governors, state attorneys general, federal officials, and law enforcement leaders from all political perspectives, we urge our leaders to listen to the will of the people and denounce any attempt to undermine our democracy or throw out the votes of hard-working Americans.”
Election Litigation: Shortly after the Associated Press projected that Joe Biden would win enough Electoral College votes to defeat President Donald Trump, Trump released a statement saying that his campaign would go to court Monday to fight the outcome, according to TIME Magazine. Trump did not explain what legal claims he might make to justify overturning the people’s choice, and he offered no evidence to back up any claims. For more information about election litigation, see our legal corner below.
Recounts: Trump cited potential recounts as reason to keep hope alive for his candidacy. Some states have mandatory recount procedures when the difference in candidates’ vote tallies is below a certain threshold. On Friday, the Georgia Secretary of State announced a recount is likely in the Peach State. However, Biden hit the 270 Electoral College votes he needs without either Georgia and Arizona, where he leads but where margins are close. The Trump campaign says it intends to file a recount request in Wisconsin. Typically, recounts almost never change the outcome of elections. In 2016, a recount in Wisconsin yielded Trump, the winner of the initial tally, an additional 131 votes. Biden leads Trump by more than 20,000 votes in Wisconsin. Read more from NPR here.
Legislative Involvement: With the president appearing to have little path through the courts to throw out legally cast votes, he may rely on long shots like pressuring state legislatures to override the will of the people. The New York Times reports that Trump could get a boost from state legislatures in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which are both controlled by Republicans. Vox highlighted that Mark Levin, a popular conservative radio host, explicitly called on Republican legislatures to reject the election results and name pro-Trump slates of electors.
- Connecticut: On Saturday, Attorney General William Tong issued a statement on the peaceful transfer of power. “This election was fair, legal, transparent, and accurate. Voters decided this outcome. Not the candidates. Not the courts. This is the genius of our Republic, and the beauty of our nation. We must now begin the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than 240 years. And we must reject all efforts now to sow chaos and confusion, and to undermine faith in our democratic process. I am proud of our people—Americans– who have elected the first woman, the first African American, the first Asian Pacific American, Vice President in the history of our great nation. And a former state attorney general too!” Read the press release here.
- Georgia: A top Georgia official said Friday a recount would be needed, but former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who’s been credited with powering Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort there, predicted the outcome wouldn’t change. Abrams stated on CNN that “recounts in Georgia essentially mean a re-scan of what’s been done very painstakingly over the last five days. And we know that, whether it’s tomorrow or next week, the result will be the same.” Read more here.
- Nevada: The Nevada Independent reports that President-elect Joe Biden continued to widen his lead over President Donald Trump in Nevada on Sunday, now securing more than 50 percent of votes cast in the presidential election in the Silver State. This weekend, Attorney General Aaron Ford weighed in on the state wins in court against the Trump campaign’s lawsuits’ challenging mail-in ballots Fox News. View the clips here. Voters who are seeing their votes unfairly questioned are speaking out as well, including this powerful response from a military wife and attorney.
Litigation aimed at overriding the people’s choice for president continued this weekend. But courts typically demand evidence rather than rhetoric, and none of the lawsuits that we’ve seen even pretend to challenge the fundamental fairness of the election or the outcome chosen by the voters. Highlights from the weekend included:
Sharpiegate 2: Sharpier! A day after agreeing to junk their first Sharpiegate case, Republican operatives were back in court Saturday with a sequel. Donald Trump and the national and state Republican parties continue to claim, without evidence, that ballots marked with Sharpies were not properly tabulated at Maricopa County polling stations. The problem with the complaint’s Sharpiegate theory is that, as Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has explained, it isn’t true. The case is Donald J. Trump for President Inc. v. Hobbs, No. — (Maricopa County Superior Court).
United States Supreme Court: The fight continued over whether Pennsylvania can count ballots postmarked on or before Election Day but received between the close of polls and 5 pm on November 6. It continued even though those ballots are not necessary for President-Elect Biden’s margin of victory in the state; even though the Pennsylvania Supreme Court authorized counting the ballots; and even though the Supreme Court has already once refused to step in. While the Supreme Court considers whether to decide the case on the merits, the state Republican Party has asked for an order that Pennsylvania keep those post-Election Day ballots separate. The problem, as the state explained in a letter filed today, is that every county in the state is already keeping the ballots separate. The fight over the injunction is Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar, No. 20a84; the underlying case is No. 20-542 (U.S.)