MADISON – An hour after the Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed Joe Biden the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election in the state, Republicans refused to accept the result and met at the state Capitol to put forward their own slate of electors.
While 10 Democratic electors met inside Gov. Tony Evers’ office to finalize the state’s 10 electoral votes for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Republicans convened to cast votes for President Donald Trump.
“We made it,” Evers, a Democrat, said after the 10 votes were officially cast by Democratic electors to be sent to Congress, in accordance with the law and the outcome of the election. “Today we did our part to continue the long and sacred tradition of our democracy of honoring the will of the people.”
Elsewhere in the Capitol, Republicans including party chairman Andrew Hitt and Wisconsin Elections Commissioner Bob Spindell met even though their electors are not supposed to be counted.
Hitt, in a statement, said the electors met “to preserve our role in the electoral process while the final outcome is still pending in the courts.”
The Republicans held their meeting to preserve their legal options as they pursue two appeals in federal court over Wisconsin’s results, said Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state Republican Party. Trump and his backers lost those lawsuits this month before district court judges.
He noted Republicans in Wisconsin faced an Electoral College protest four years ago when Trump won the state. Democrats didn’t have an alternate slate of electors that year, but Jefferson said the 2016 protest showed there are “strong wills on both sides” when it comes to politics.
Jefferson said Republicans didn’t announce their plans this year to avoid another round of protests.
“We just wanted to quietly go in and do our thing,” he said. “I don’t think it harms anything to go through this process. I think it’s a healthy exercise.”
He declined to say how much of a shot he thought Republicans had at getting Trump a second term after losing the Electoral College vote and dozens of lawsuits.
“I’m in no position to speculate on it,” he said. “I’ll leave that to the attorneys.”
The Trump electors who met Monday included Hitt, GOP chairmen of Dane and La Crosse counties Scott Grabins and Bill Feehan, Spindell, 1st Congressional District GOP vice chairwoman Carol Brunner, Republican National Committeeman Tom Schreibel, former Assembly candidate Darryl Carlson, Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women treasurer Pam Travis, 8th Congressional District GOP chairwoman Kelly Ruh and RNC vice chairwoman for the Midwest region Mary Buestrin.
Monday’s court ruling was the eighth one against Trump in 12 days in seven cases that challenged the results in Wisconsin. The state Supreme Court ruled against him four times and the U.S. Supreme Court, a retired circuit court judge and two federal judges in Milwaukee each ruled against him once.
Trump and his backers have appealed the rulings from the federal judges in Milwaukee, but their chances appear bleak because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling and the fast-approaching Electoral College meeting.
Some Republicans are considering challenging the results of the election when Congress counts the electoral votes on Jan. 6. Pulling off such an effort would be unprecedented.
Trump and his backers have been calling the election results into question, despite a lack of evidence of widespread fraud. They have filed dozens of lawsuits but have been turned away by court after court, including ones stocked with judges appointed by Trump or elected with the backing of Republicans.
Their reluctance to accept the election results has put a new spotlight on the Electoral College, an unusual component of American politics that baffles foreigners and causes middle schoolers to scratch their heads.
While ballots listed Trump and Biden’s names, Americans were actually voting on Nov. 3 for members of the Electoral College. Those electors met in state capitols around the country Monday to officially name Biden president-elect. Biden was to receive 306 electoral votes and Trump 232.
With those votes cast, the already difficult legal path Trump has pursued becomes far trickier. Litigation may continue, but Trump’s chances before the courts will become vanishingly small.
But Republicans hoped to preserve their options by having an alternate slate of electors meet in Wisconsin and in other states.
Ahead of the votes, all eyes were on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which held arguments Saturday as Trump sought to take back the electoral votes that went to Biden. The court rejected his efforts 4-3, just as it did in three other challenges to the election presented to it this month.
The Electoral College votes now go to Congress, which will count them on Jan. 6. Vice President Mike Pence, as Senate president, will preside over the tally.
Some Republicans have raised the possibility of having members of Congress challenge the results of some states to try to shift votes to Trump. With Democrats controlling the U.S. House, the chances of success appear negligible.
Ben Ginsberg, a Republican election attorney who served as George W. Bush’s recount lawyer in 2000, told the Washington Post in a live-streamed talk Monday that Republicans who challenge would be engaging in theater and are “gonna lose and lose convincingly.”
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