11/19 Daily Update: Recounts, Contests, and Rudy Giuliani – Oh My!

Published: 11.19.20

We are sixteen days past Election Day, but the threats to democracy persist. Today, the Trump campaign’s legal team aired false conspiracy theories about the election during a press event led by the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Meanwhile, Trump is trying to pressure Republican state officials in Michigan into obstructing the certification of Michigan’s election results — which President Elect Biden won by more than 155,000 votes — and overturning the will of the people. In a troubling abuse of power, Trump has summoned two key Michigan state legislators to the White House tomorrow.

VPP National Director Joanna Lydgate condemned the President’s attempts to pressure Michigan officials into overriding the popular vote as “unpatriotic.” Her statement, published  in the Washington Post and Jezebel, said in full: “The voters of Michigan have spoken, Joe Biden has been elected by a substantial margin, and there is no basis in fact or law for failing to certify the election. The president’s unpatriotic behavior is reaching new heights with summoning state legislative officials to the White House. But the legislature has no role in certification, as its leaders have already publicly admitted. This raises serious legal and ethical concerns about the president’s conduct —but it will not alter the outcome of the election.”

Here’s your update:

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.


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


  • 11/20: Secretary of State must certify the results of the statewide count


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


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


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


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

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National News

Web of Lies:  Today was the second time in less than two weeks that Rudy Giuliani has held a press conference to make baseless accusations of voter fraud. Giuliani has reportedly told confidants that his strategy is to create enough confusion and doubt that state legislatures will attempt to override the popular vote. “That press conference was the most dangerous 1 hour 45 minutes of television in American history,” tweeted Chris Krebs, the cybersecurity official Trump fired on Tuesday after he bucked the president by debunking misinformation about voter fraud. “And possibly the craziest.” Read more here.

Quest for Certification: In Michigan, the Board of State Canvassers has a scheduled meeting on Monday to review and certify the results previously certified by canvassing boards in each county. Officials remain optimistic that the state will certify on time, despite failed partisan efforts to obstruct certification in Wayne County, which includes Detroit. The president has invited Michigan Republican lawmakers to the White House on Friday, and his campaign is openly trying to block the certification process. Read more here.

State Updates

Georgia: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says that a statewide hand audit of about 5 million ballots confirmed Joe Biden as the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election in Georgia. Raffensperger, who anticipated certifying the state’s election results tomorrow, launched the audit after unofficial results showed Biden leading President Donald Trump by about 14,000 votes. Read more here.

Michigan:  There was no shortage of news in Michigan today. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says her office is on track to perform a statewide risk-limiting audit of November’s general election as well as local performance audits of individual jurisdictions after certification. Read more here.

Pennsylvania: Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement in response to  a Pennsylvania House Republican effort to interfere in a nonpartisan election audit. Gov. Wolf explained that a legislative audit is unnecessary and duplicative because post-election audits are standard practice. In other news, Attorney General Josh Shapiro spoke with Next Pittsburgh about the “smooth and safe” election. AG Shapiro celebrated record turnout and committed to respecting the will of the people of Pennsylvania in every race. Read the full interview here.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin’s partial recount, requested by the Trump campaign, is now on the clock. Milwaukee and Dane Counties have until December 1 to recount all of their votes. The Wisconsin Elections Commission has decided that all of the ballots must be available for candidates and their representatives to view to offer any objections. The Trump campaign says it plans to call tens of thousands of absentee votes into question. Read more here.

Legal Corner

Today, the field of post-election litigation was further culled with the dismissal of three of the most significant remaining cases:

You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit: This morning, Trump dropped his last federal lawsuit in Michigan. The suit sought to block certification of the presidential vote in Wayne County – Detroit and its suburbs – and across the state. Trump and a handful of voters claimed that Wayne County didn’t allow challengers adequate access to observe ballot processing and that some election officials illegally backdated ballots received after the close of polls on Election Day. In the face of motions to dismiss, plaintiffs declared victory and went home, telling the court that they were withdrawing their suit because they had already obtained the relief they sought. They claimed Wayne County had not certified its vote by the state-mandated deadline of 11/17. In fact, Wayne County’s Board of Canvassers did certify the results on time — even though, the next day, the board’s two Republican members tried to rescind their votes after speaking with President Trump. The attempted recission has no legal effect, according to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The case was Donald J. Trump for President v. Benson, 20-1083 (W.D. Mich.).

Actually, You’re Fired: AnArizona court today dismissed a lawsuit seeking to force Maricopa County, the state’s largest, to redo its post-election audit. The suit, brought in Maricopa County Superior Court by a handful of Trump sympathizers, alleged that the county’s manual audit was procedurally flawed, even though the audit results matched the electronic count exactly. Now Trump and his partisans have only one remaining legal challenge in Arizona. The dismissed case was Arizona Republican Party v. Fontes, No. CV2020-014553 (Maricopa County Superior Court).

Fired, I said: A federal court in Georgia this evening dismissed the last remaining legal challenge to Joe Biden’s victory in the state. The case, brought by a Trump voter and argued by a Trump-funded lawyer, argued that Georgia violated the federal constitution by constraining poll watchers and by entering into a consent decree governing signature matching on absentee ballots. But Judge Steven Grimberg, a Trump appointee in the Northern District of Georgia, refused the plaintiff’s motion to stop certification and then threw the case out completely. Judge Grimberg found that the plaintiff wasn’t injured; that the case was brought far too late in the game; and that the plaintiff’s claims had no merit, since – among other things – there is no constitutional right to monitor an election. The case was Wood v. Raffensperger, No. 20-4651 (N.D. Ga.).