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Donald Trump appeals Wisconsin election loss to U.S. Supreme Court
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Donald Trump appeals Wisconsin election loss to U.S. Supreme Court

In yet another last-ditch effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump’s campaign appealed his recent loss in the Wisconsin Supreme Court to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Trump is asking the court to allow Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature to override the will of voters and appoint its own presidential electors. The U.S. Supreme Court has already shot down election challenges in other states.

The longshot effort would require the nation’s highest court to overturn the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent 4-3 decision dismissing Trump’s election challenge and cementing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Trump had sought to toss about 220,000 absentee ballots in heavily Democratic Dane and Milwaukee counties, arguing those ballots were cast in violation of state election law. The Supreme Court majority affirmed a lower court ruling that the challenge came too late.

Wisconsin’s 10 presidential electors cast their votes for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Dec. 14. Electoral votes will be counted by Congress on Jan. 6. Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes.

“Regrettably, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in their 4-3 decision, refused to address the merits of our claim,” said Trump’s Wisconsin attorney, Jim Troupis. “This ‘Cert Petition’ asks them to address our claims, which, if allowed, would change the outcome of the election in Wisconsin. Three members of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, agreed with many of the President’s claims in written dissents from that court’s December 14 order.”

In its new petition the Trump campaign wants the election result to be voided, and more than 50,000 ballots in heavily Democratic Dane and Milwaukee counties to be thrown out.

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The new petition targets a subset of the ballots the Trump campaign wanted thrown out in the unsuccessful Wisconsin Supreme Court case: more than 28,000 ballots the campaign says didn’t provide identification due to self-certifying as “indefinitely confined”; nearly 6,000 absentee ballots included in envelopes where clerks filled in missing witness address information; and more than 17,000 ballots that were collected at Madison’s Democracy in the Park event.

State Supreme Court justices largely dismissed Trump’s claims challenging absentee ballots cast by voters who self-identified as “indefinitely confined.” The campaign alleged an explosion of such ballots this year suggested many of those voters were just using it as an excuse to not provide a photo ID, not to just avoid going to the polls during a pandemic. The justices, however, found those claims lacked evidence.

“Indefinitely confined” status applies to voters who are indefinitely unable to vote in person due to age, physical illness, infirmity or disability, and exempts them from having to provide a photo ID.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently ruled that voters may self-certify as “indefinitely confined,” but only based on age, physical illness or infirmity, and not the condition of another person.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission had issued guidance before the election allowing clerks to fill in missing witness address information on absentee ballot envelopes if they had reliable information to do so. Madison’s Democracy in the Park event allowed voters who had already been mailed their absentee ballots to turn them in to paid election workers at city parks, and to get their ballot envelopes witnessed if needed.

In dismissing Trump’s challenges, the four-justice majority ruled they should have been brought before the election rather than after.

Still, three of the court’s conservative members made clear they considered at least some of the challenged election procedures unlawful and wouldn’t have ruled out tossing many of the ballots Trump wanted them to void. Those dissents were noted in Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court petition.

Fave 5: Reporter Riley Vetterkind shares his top stories of 2020

It goes without saying this year has been a whirlwind, and it’s not even over yet. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented our state and country with one of the foremost crises of the past century.

While some crises in our history managed to unite the nation, the story of this year’s crisis is much different. COVID-19 and the response to it have accelerated America’s and Wisconsin’s deep political divisions and leave our politics in a nearly constant state of disarray.

Here's a look back at some of this year's top stories in state government and politics. 

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