Wisconsin and Arizona make it official as Trump fails to stop vote certification in all six states where he contested his defeat
By Amy Gardner, Emma Brown and Rosalind S. Helderman,
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Wisconsin and Arizona on Monday became the last two of six states where President Trump has contested his defeat to finalize their vote counts, dealing a fresh blow to his quest to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory as a chorus of Republicans and Democrats offered support for the election’s integrity.
Trump and his allies vowed to continue pressing legal claims challenging the election results in several states, but such efforts have met with resounding failures in the courts across the country. Monday’s certifications brought to a close a key period in which Trump and his advisers had said they would be able to derail Biden’s win.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) certified her state’s election results alongside the Republican governor and attorney general. Several hours later, the Democratic chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Ann Jacobs, completed her state’s canvass and declared Biden the winner of the state’s 10 electoral votes, a declaration that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers promptly certified.
Their actions brought Biden one step closer to an official victory on Dec. 14, when the electoral college meets.
While Trump has kept up a stream of baseless claims that the election was corrupted by fraud, a growing number of state officials on both sides of the aisle pushed back against that notion.
President Trump waves on the South Lawn of the White House after exiting Marine One on Sunday.
“We do elections well here in Arizona,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said shortly before he signed the certificate of ascertainment for Biden’s electors. “The system is strong, and that’s why I have bragged on it so much.”
Ducey’s full-throated defense of his state’s results came as Trump’s legal advisers made sweeping allegations that the election was stolen during an event Monday with GOP state lawmakers in Phoenix.
Late Monday, Trump called in and spoke to the crowd via cellphone, calling the 2020 election the “greatest scam ever perpetrated against our country.” The president ripped into Ducey, criticizing him for “rushing to sign” papers certifying Democratic victories.
“We’re going to win this,” said Trump, who also tweeted attacks against the Republican governor. “Arizona won’t forget what Ducey just did.” He also said that additional suits would be filed as soon as Tuesday in Wisconsin and Georgia.
Ducey joined other state Republicans who have defended the vote, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who on Monday described those trying to overturn the election results in the state as “dishonest actors” spreading “massive amounts of disinformation.”
The comments by state GOP officials contrasted sharply with the posture of many national Republican officials, who have largely been silent, even as Trump’s falsehoods about the security of the vote have grown more extreme.
One GOP leader who declined yet again to acknowledge Biden’s victory Monday was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who gave a nine-minute floor speech in the Senate chamber without once mentioning the transition or any of Biden’s designated Cabinet nominees.
Georgia, which certified Biden’s victory on Nov. 20, is conducting a second recount of the vote at the request of the Trump campaign, but officials have said they do not expect it to alter Biden’s 12,000-vote victory there.
Three other states where the Trump campaign and its allies have tried to overturn the results — Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania — have also certified their results.
Even as the process to finalize Biden’s victory has moved forward, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have fired off a blizzard of misleading fundraising appeals about the election, helping bring in more than $150 million since Election Day, according to people with knowledge of the contributions. The vast majority of low-dollar donations given in response to the most recent appeals are earmarked for the president’s new leadership PAC, which could be used to personally benefit Trump after he leaves the White House.
Election security experts expressed growing outrage at the president’s relentless efforts to sow doubt about the integrity of the vote.
In a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday night, Chris Krebs, Trump’s recently fired director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, described the president’s claims as “an apparent attempt to undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people.”
And on Monday, the chief executive of Dominion Voting Systems published a scorching editorial in the Wall Street Journal denying baseless and in some cases fantastical accusations from Trump and his allies that the company’s voting machines were controlled by communists, sent votes outside the country for counting and had been programmed to flip Trump votes for Biden.
“The allegations against Dominion are bizarre, but I’ll set the record straight,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said. “Dominion is an American company, now headquartered in Denver. Dominion is not and has never been a front for communists. It has no ties to Hugo Chávez, the late dictator of Venezuela. It has never been involved in Venezuelan elections. None of Dominion’s systems use the Smartmatic software that has come under attack, as any state certification lab could verify. There is no secret ‘vote flipping’ algorithm.”
Meanwhile, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, the permanent U.S. representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, described Biden on Monday as president-elect and repeatedly referred to his team as “the incoming administration,” going further than most Trump appointees in acknowledging the president’s election loss.
In Arizona, the certification paves the way not only for Biden to receive the state’s 11 electoral votes but also for Democrat Mark Kelly to join the U.S. Senate. Kelly, the husband of former U.S. congresswoman and mass shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords, defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally in a special election Nov. 3 and is expected to be sworn in Wednesday.
Hobbs, a Democrat, certified the statewide vote in the company of two key Republicans, Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Brnovich has vocally defended the integrity of Arizona’s election against his own party’s claims of widespread fraud, saying his office investigated and found no evidence.
“This election was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures — despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary,” Hobbs said Monday.
The legal contests in Arizona are not over, however. It is one of several states that permits election results to be challenged after certification.
Lawyers for Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the state Republican Party, filed such a contest immediately following Monday’s certification. Last week, they had asked a Maricopa County judge to allow the inspection of mail ballot envelopes, arguing — without evidence — that poor signature verification allowed fraudulent votes to be counted.
During a hearing on that request Monday morning, Ward’s lawyer said he had assembled a team of handwriting experts to inspect whether the signatures on envelopes matched those on file. Judge Randall Warner agreed to allow them to inspect 100 mail ballot envelopes and 100 duplicated ballots that had been filled out by election workers when original ballots were damaged, in advance of an evidentiary hearing he set for Thursday.
Although attorneys for Hobbs argued against that ruling because Ward had offered no evidence of irregularities, Randall said he would rather “err on the side of transparency . . . so that whatever the results are, we can be confident in them.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis appeared at a press event Monday with state lawmakers in Phoenix that was meant to look like a formal legislative hearing.
The former New York mayor, who appeared at a similar gathering in Gettysburg, Pa., last week, spent hours speculating about how election results might have been tampered with, even as several witnesses said more data and analysis were needed to draw firm conclusions about Arizona.
The audience broke into applause when Giuliani claimed the election had been stolen from the president and called on the legislature to choose its own electors to support Trump.
Giuliani compared the move to the self-sacrifice of “losing your life on a battlefield.”
“Your political career is worth losing if you save the right to vote in America,” he said. “. . . That’s really what’s required right now.”
In Wisconsin, Evers formally certified Biden’s victory, giving him the state’s 10 electoral votes. In a statement, Evers thanked state elections workers for ensuring a “safe, fair and efficient election.”
Biden defeated Trump in the key swing state by more than 20,000 votes, a victory that was confirmed after a recount requested by the president’s campaign in the state’s two largest counties.
Trump has said that his campaign will file a suit arguing that the recount had included illegally cast ballots and that tens of thousands of ballots should be invalidated. During the recount, his lawyers had alleged no fraud or wrongdoing but had instead argued that election officials had misinterpreted state law in accepting the ballots in the first place.
State law includes a provision allowing a campaign that loses a recount five days to challenge the results in court, meaning the Trump campaign can still seek to challenge Evers’s move. In a statement Monday, the state elections administrator, Meagan Wolfe, said a judge could still order the certificate of ascertainment to be amended should Trump win in court.
Legal experts, however, have said the Trump campaign’s legal arguments are thin and will face an uphill battle in court. Evers’s speedy action could make success in court even harder for Trump because under federal law, the state has now completed the process of appointing electors.
In Georgia, the Trump campaign issued a news release calling on Raffensperger to audit absentee ballot signatures, claiming that tens of thousands of votes should have been discarded because of nonmatching signatures. The campaign has offered no evidence to support that allegation.
Even Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who has found himself at the receiving end of vicious attacks by Trump for not repeating his allegations of fraud, pushed back against the president Monday after Trump urged him to use his executive powers to force an examination of the signatures.
“Georgia law prohibits the Governor from interfering in elections,” Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said in a statement.
In a morning news conference, Raffensperger said his office is vigorously investigating allegations of election fraud even as he disputed the presidents’ false claims.
An election contest is also underway in Nevada, where state law allows the Trump campaign to take depositions ahead of a hearing scheduled in Carson City court on Thursday.
Felicia Sonmez, Mike DeBonis, Elise Viebeck, Keith Newell, Aaron Schaffer and Tobi Raji contributed to this report.