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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Wisconsin, Arizona certify Biden wins

An election worker sorted through ballots during a recount of Milwaukee County results at the Wisconsin Center on Nov. 20.
An election worker sorted through ballots during a recount of Milwaukee County results at the Wisconsin Center on Nov. 20.Taylor Glascock/For The Washington Post

The chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Monday certified President-elect Joe Biden as the winner in Wisconsin, formalizing his narrow victory in a state President Trump carried four years ago and undermining the quixotic efforts of Trump and his supporters to portray his decisive national loss as a matter still under dispute.

During a three-minute teleconference Monday afternoon, Ann Jacobs, the elections commission chairwoman, signed a document that declared Biden to be the winner.

The Wisconsin certification came a few hours after Arizona officials formalized Biden’s even narrower victory there.

Monday’s certifications would be an afterthought in any other year. But in an environment where Trump’s false claims of massive fraud have created an alternate reality among his die-hard backers — in the West Wing and beyond — the results foreclosed his fanciful final path to victory.

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Trump, buoyed by his legal team and supporters in the conservative media, has held out hope that he could somehow prevail in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia, where Republican officials on Monday firmly refused to challenge Biden’s win there.

In Arizona, Biden prevailed by more than 10,000 votes, mainly because of his strength in the state’s largest county, Maricopa, which has been trending Democratic in recent elections.

The state will deliver its 11 electoral votes to Biden when the Electoral College meets in December, a ceremonial conclave that Trump hopes to flip in his favor despite state laws that forbid electors from defying the will of voters.

The certification in Wisconsin followed the conclusion of recounts, requested and subsidized with $3 million from Trump’s campaign, in Dane and Milwaukee Counties that resulted in Biden adding 87 votes to his statewide margin.

Two weeks ago the Trump campaign requested the recounts in Dane and Milwaukee, the state’s two largest and most Democratic counties, in an effort to build a legal case against Biden’s statewide victory. Biden won Wisconsin by 20,565 votes, a margin that was always highly unlikely to be overturned in a recount.

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The Trump campaign has argued in its recount petition that all ballots cast at pre-Election Day in-person absentee voting sites should be disqualified because, it claimed incorrectly, those absentee ballots were issued without voters submitting a written application requesting the ballot.

Its argument would have thrown out hundreds of thousands of ballots across Wisconsin, including those cast by prominent Trump supporters, such as several state legislators and one of the president’s lawyers, Jim Troupis, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

New York Times

Georgia GOP officials rebut Trump’s allegations

Two top Georgia Republicans who President Trump has attacked in his postelection campaign to subvert President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state forcefully pushed back against the White House on Monday.

Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, once again rebuffed the president’s demand that he review ballot signatures as part of a second audit that is nevertheless expected to affirm Biden’s win later this week, and the state’s governor, Brian Kemp, stood by him.

In two tweets early Monday, Trump said that Kemp should use emergency powers to overrule Raffensperger and compare the number of envelopes and ballots. The president claimed that doing so would reveal rampant fraud, an assertion that has been rejected by the state’s Republican elections officials.

Trump called the governor “hapless.”

Kemp flatly rejected him.

“Georgia law prohibits the Governor from interfering in elections,” Kemp’s spokesman, Cody Hall, wrote in a statement early Monday in response to Trump’s tweet. “The Secretary of State, who is an elected Constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order.”

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Raffensperger, who has faced scathing personal attacks for standing up to Trump, went even further during a news conference Monday, portraying the president as a credulous, misinformed victim of “dishonest” advisers.

“There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half truths, and misinformation, and frankly they are misleading the president as well, apparently,” said Raffensperger, who is overseeing a second audit of the results that is not expected to change the outcome. (Georgia has already completed a hand recount of more than 5 million ballots that reaffirmed Biden’s victory.)

No significant evidence has been found to support the president’s claims, and several judges in multiple states have quickly dismissed lawsuits by his legal team alleging fraud.

Meanwhile, John Poulos, president and chief executive of Dominion Voting Systems, pushed back in an op-ed published Monday on the “lies and smears” pushed by Trump and his allies about voting machines manufactured by the company helping deliver the election to Biden.

“The wild allegations of recent weeks have fueled the harassment of election officials and Dominion employees across the country — including stalking and death threats,” Poulos wrote in the piece published by the Wall Street Journal. “The lies and smears have no basis in fact, but they do real damage to our democracy by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process.”

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In the op-ed, Poulos specifically denied a litany of claims repeated by Trump’s legal team and other allies of the president.

“The allegations against Dominion are bizarre, but I’ll set the record straight,” he 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.”

New York Times and Washington Post

Fired election security chief reaffirms vote integrity

In his first interview after President Trump fired him from his post leading the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to help to secure the election, Christopher Krebs reaffirmed on Sunday that there was no evidence of voter fraud and the integrity of the election had not been compromised.

“There is no foreign power that is flipping votes. There’s no domestic actor flipping votes. I did it right. We did it right,” Krebs told CBS News’s Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes.” “This was a secure election.”

Trump vehemently disagreed, turning to his Twitter feed late Sunday to excoriate Krebs and the news program, and reassert his unfounded claims that the election he lost was “probably our least secure EVER!”

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“NO WAY WE LOST THIS ELECTION!” tweeted Trump, again without evidence, in another claim marked as “disputed” on Twitter.

Krebs, a Republican who joined the DHS in 2017 as a senior counselor to then-Secretary John Kelly, was confirmed in 2018 as undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, later rebranded to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Krebs seemingly fell out of Trump’s good graces earlier this month when CISA released a joint statement with the coordinating council of state and local federal government entities in charge of protecting elections that rejected the president’s claims and called the election “the most secure in American history.”

Five days later, on Nov. 17, Krebs, like many other government officials over the past four years, learned he was terminated from one of the president’s tweets.

Washington Post