Trump-appointed judge dismisses 'extraordinary' lawsuit seeking to overturn Wisconsin election in US court

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Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
·3 min read
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A federal judge threw out one of President Donald Trump's election lawsuits Saturday, dealing the Republican president and his supporters their seventh legal loss in 10 days as they seek to flip Wisconsin's results.

U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig — a Trump nominee — concluded Wisconsin officials had followed state laws when they conducted the Nov. 3 election.

Ludwig described the case as "extraordinary."

"A sitting president who did not prevail in his bid for reelection has asked for federal court help in setting aside the popular vote based on disputed issues of election administration, issues he plainly could have raised before the vote occurred," he wrote.

"This court allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits. In his reply brief, plaintiff 'asks that the Rule of Law be followed.' It has been."

His decision came two days before the Electoral College is to meet to deliver the presidency to Democrat Joe Biden. Biden won Wisconsin's election by about 21,000, or 0.6 percentage points.

Trump sought to have the Republican-led Legislature, rather than voters, decide how to allocate Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes. In a hearing Thursday, Ludwig told Trump's legal team that giving that power to lawmakers would result in "probably the most remarkable ruling in the history of this court or the federal judiciary."

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U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig
U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig

The state Supreme Court last week refused to take up three lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies challenging the election results. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper dismissed a lawsuit by a Republican Party official who alleged a web of election conspiracies involving Iran, China, deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and an anonymous source who goes by the name Spider.

A state reserve judge ruled against Trump on Friday and the Wisconsin Supreme Court was hearing an appeal to that decision Saturday when Ludwig released his decision. And in another, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear a case filed by the Texas attorney general seeking to block the votes of Wisconsin and three other swing states.

Trump and his backers have faced similar setbacks in dozens of cases around the country, with courts finding no evidence of widespread fraud or improprieties.

In the case before Ludwig, Trump argued that some of the state's long-standing election practices are improper. He contended the system the state uses for in-person early voting — in place for more than a decade — is illegal because voters are required to fill out one form instead of two.

He also argued clerks should not have set up absentee ballot drop boxes and should not have filled in the addresses of witnesses on absentee ballot envelopes. The policy for witness addresses was put forward by Republicans on the state Elections Commission four years ago.

Trump also argued some voters improperly labeled themselves indefinitely confined, which allowed them to vote absentee without providing a copy of a photo ID. State law leaves it to voters to determine if their age or a disability renders them indefinitely confined.

But Ludwig wrote that the state Legislature had given the Wisconsin Elections Commission the ability to advise clerks on how to set up their election procedures. Siding with Trump would allow every losing candidate to run to court after each election, he wrote.

Follow Patrick Marley on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Trump appointee Brett Ludwig tosses Wisconsin election lawsuit