11/22 Weekend Update: Winter is Coming (and so is Certification)

Published: 11.22.20

The fight to preserve the integrity of the election results continues! This weekend, election officials in Wisconsin’s largest county accused observers for President Trump’s campaign of seeking to obstruct a recount of the election results. Meanwhile, a federal judge roundly rejected Trump’s effort — his last federal court case anywhere in the country — to overturn the election result in Pennsylvania.

Keep on your radar: the Michigan Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet on Monday, and certifying the state’s results is top of the agenda. Read the VPP’s blog post analyzing why Michigan law requires the Board to fulfill its responsibilities and certify without delay.

Former two-term Governor and Attorney General of Michigan and VPP Advisory Board Member Jennifer Granholm appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 this weekend to discuss the election and reinforce that the will of the voters must be upheld. View the clip here.

Here’s your weekend update:

National Updates

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop…Losing Lawsuits: Searching for ways to salvage his failed reelection bid, President Trump’s campaign over the past three weeks pursued a dizzying game of legal hopscotch, alleging voter fraud across six states with a special focus on the biggest prize of all: Pennsylvania. The strategy has not fared well in court, where judges have uniformly rejected Trump’s claims. Read more from the Associated Press on the Trump campaign’s most recent loss here.

Voter Confidence: New data from Pew Research Center on voters’ evaluations of the 2020 election determined that voters have more confidence in counts of votes cast at in-person polling places than by mail or absentee. Trump voters’ confidence in vote counts dropped after the election, while Biden voters’ confidence rose. Read more here.

State Updates

Georgia: The Trump campaign yet again requested a formal recount of votes in the Georgia presidential race on Saturday, a day after Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified results. Read more here. This means Georgia’s nearly 5 million votes in the presidential race will be counted for a third time. President Elect Biden beat Trump in Georgia by more than 12,000 votes. No recount on record has ever changed an outcome when candidates were separated by such a wide margin.

Michigan: The Michigan Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet tomorrow, and their job is to certify the state’s election results. Joe Biden beat Trump by more than 155,000 votes in Michigan. But the Trump campaign and its allies are continuing their desperate, undemocratic attempts to block certification and override the popular vote. On Saturday, the Michigan Republican Party and Republican National Committee sent a letter to the State Board of Canvassers asking them to delay certification for 14 days and wait for an audit of the election results in Wayne County.

But Michigan law is clear: the Board has a legal duty to certify the results of the election, and it has no discretion to conduct an investigation or order an audit. In fact, audits in Michigan are retrospective only — they happen after the vote is certified, not before. For more, read the VPP’s legal analysis here.

Meanwhile, three Detroit voters joined Michigan Welfare Rights Organization to file a lawsuit against the Trump campaign Friday, arguing that the campaign is seeking to disenfranchise Black voters by blocking the certification of Michigan votes — especially those from Wayne County.

Pennsylvania: A federal judge issued a scathing order Saturday dismissing the Trump campaign’s last remaining federal case. Judge Matthew Brann, a conservative Republican sitting in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, decried Trump’s futile effort to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s votes as “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.”  The dismissed case was Donald J. Trump for President v. Boockvar, 20-2078 (M.D. Pa.). Attorney General Josh Shapiro set the record straight in response to claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania on Twitter today.

Also today, Trump’s lawyers, led by Rudy Giuliani, filed their notice of appeal to the federal Third Circuit, where a recently-issued opinion seems to foreclose any possibility of relief for the Trump campaign. The Trump legal team claims that their strategy is to reach the Supreme Court, where Trump purports to believe that a sympathetic bench awaits him, as quickly as possible. But the nonpartisan Scotusblog warned: “There is no chance SCOTUS will review the suit dismissed by Judge Brann seeking to block Pennsylvania’s certification. The lawyers representing the President are either delusional or intentionally misleading him and his supporters.”

Wisconsin: On Saturday, election officials in Wisconsin’s largest county accused observers for the Trump Campaign of seeking to obstruct a recount of the presidential results, in some instances by objecting to every ballot that tabulators tried to count. Trump requested the recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties, both heavily Democratic, in hopes of undoing Joe Biden’s victory. The President  Elect won the state by about 20,600 votes. With no precedent for a recount reversing such a large margin, Trump’s strategy is widely seen as aimed at an eventual court challenge, part of a push in key states to undo his election loss. Read more here.

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 December 8, with electors set to meet and vote for president on December 14.


  • 11/23: Counties complete their canvasses and certify results — the only county that has not certified as of 11/22 is Mohave County
  • 11/30: Deadline for the Secretary of State to canvass returns and complete 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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