11/12 Daily Update: Protecting the Results in the Face of Meritless Claims

Published: 11.12.20

Nine days after a successful Election Day, the Voter Protection Program continues its work to defend the results. Today, the VPP is re-circulating messaging guidance in response to the threat of partisan state legislatures trying to illegally overturn the people’s vote.

This morning, the Washington Post printed additional coverage of yesterday’s VPP press briefing with current and former state attorneys general. The article quotes Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who makes clear that Michigan’s slate of electors will accurately reflect the popular will. President-elect Biden carried Michigan by more than 140,000 votes.

In national news, articles discussed the election litigation landscape and the DOJ memorandum from U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.

Here’s your update:

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

GOP Support for Transition Grows:  Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker joined the growing group of Republicans who are dismissing Trump’s cries of voter fraud and supporting a peaceful and quick transition to the Biden-Harris administration.

Election Litigation: As the Trump campaign continues to pursue a patchwork of legal attacks in key states where Biden is the projected winner, the New York Times observes that Trump has adduced virtually no evidence to support his case for overturning the will of the people. For the latest on these cases, check out our legal corner below.

DOJ: In an op-ed published this morning, a former U.S. Attorney under President George W. Bush, David Iglesias, criticized Attorney General Barr’s abrupt policy change permitting investigations into alleged election related crimes before the certification of the results. David Iglesias concluded: “This is a poorly considered, extreme solution, worse than the problem it purports to address. Thankfully, it is too little, too late to stop the will of the majority of American voters.” Legal experts  warn that Barr is impermissibly mixing partisan politics into official Justice Department policy.

State Updates

Georgia: Yesterday, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a hand-counted audit of Georgia’s presidential vote, which Biden leads by more than 14,000 votes. Raffensberger says that his goal is to complete the audit before November 20, the state deadline for certification. Read more here.

Michigan: Detroit-area activists who mobilized Black voters in the presidential election say it’s no coincidence that allegations of voter fraud are focused on majority-Black cities. Read more here.

Nevada: Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke about the Trump campaign’s ill-fated legal battles in the state on CBS News yesterday. Watch the full clip  here.

Pennsylvania:  A Pennsylvania poll worker explains the painstaking process of counting votes and why he believes that it would be impossible to rig a statewide election. Read the full account from Vox  here.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin elections officials continue to make good progress regardless of the baseless investigations in the state legislature: 55 of the 72 counties have submitted certified results to the state elections commission, which expects all counties to finalized their count by the November 17 deadline.  Read canvass statements and results here.

Legal Corner

Desperation is the mother of invention, and today the defeated Trump campaign’s allies spun out more meritless lawsuits aimed at excluding Democratic-leaning areas from the count. A full litigation rundown is here. Today’s developments included:

It’s Spreading: Voting rights opponents filed cookie-cutter template complaints in Georgia and Wisconsin, asking federal courts to exclude heavily Democratic counties from the statewide certified counts. They plead a 14th Amendment vote dilution theory, arguing that fraud and impropriety are so rife in those jurisdictions that including their votes would dilute legitimate votes cast by Republicans. They allege a scant handful of largely conclusory instances of voting problems in each state, and based on those seek to throw out millions of votes. The Georgia case is Brooks v. Mahoney, No. 20-cv-281 (S.D. Ga.). The Wisconsin case is Langenhorst v. Pecore, No. 20-cv-1701 (E.D. Wis.). Similarly moribund cases have also been filed in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Sharpiegate II Is Not About Sharpies: It turned out, during a long hearing in a Maricopa County court today, that the case known as Sharpiegate II is not, in fact, about Sharpie markers. The pipe is also not a pipe. What is less clear, after hours of testimony failed to establish fraud or even error, is whether the case is about anything at all.

Recall that Sharpiegate II – aka Donald J. Trump for President Inc. v. Hobbs, No. CV2020-014248 (Maricopa County Superior Court) – was, as the name suggests, the second of its kind. The first was dismissed. Both were premised on the false but viral social media myth that Republican voters in Arizona’s largest county had been given Sharpie markers for their ballots. Ballots marked with Sharpies, the myth claimed, were read by the county’s scanners as “overvotes,” and spoiled.

Arizona’s Republican Attorney General looked into the myth – and debunked it. Nevertheless, the Trump campaign sued, alleging a systemic problem in Maricopa that purportedly justified slamming the brakes on the whole counting process. But at the hearing today, Trump’s witnesses gutted his case. Witness after witness acknowledged that they didn’t know whether their ballots in fact had been spoiled. Trump’s lawyer openly acknowledged that he wasn’t even alleging fraud. He also abandoned his own Sharpiegate theory halfway through the hearing, leaving it unclear what, exactly, he was alleging. The judge has taken the case under advisement.

Messaging Guidance:  A Candidate Tries to Throw Election to State Legislatures

  • State legislatures have not intervened to overturn the will of the people since the 1800s. We don’t do that in this country.
  • This is cheating the American people of their votes.
  • The voters decide the outcome of the election, any attempt to mess with that is an attempt to steal the election.
  • This is an attack on our democracy and flies in the face of the principles our nation was founded on.
  • We will do everything in our power to ensure that voters decide the election, not the president or politicians grasping at power.
  • We’re calling on all leaders to uphold the will of the American people.
  • We are counting on our leaders to protect our democracy.
  • Let’s be clear: this is an attempt by Donald Trump and his enablers in state government to steal this election away from voters.