Court Battles

Pro-Trump ‘electors’ in Wisconsin hit with first-of-its-kind lawsuit

A lawsuit filed by a group of Wisconsin residents on Tuesday takes aim at the Trump backers who claimed to represent the state’s valid slate of 2020 presidential electors, despite President Biden’s victory there.

The first-of-its-kind litigation seeks to hold accountable a dozen named defendants it accuses of perpetrating a fraudulent scheme to undermine democracy by attempting to bypass the will of Wisconsin voters — and to deter similar efforts in the future.

“This is not how we do elections in the United States,” said Mary McCord, executive director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University, one of the public interest groups backing the lawsuit. “When your candidate loses, you don’t get to just go and vote and submit your ballots as though your candidate won.”

The 55-page complaint, filed in state court by a group of Wisconsin citizens that includes two democratically chosen electors for Biden, claims the alleged electoral scheme ran afoul of Wisconsin and federal law even though it was unsuccessful. The plaintiffs are seeking a ruling declaring that defendants illegally usurped the role of Wisconsin’s 10 electors for Biden and undermined voters’ legal authority to elect the candidate of their choosing.

The defendants in the case comprise 10 allegedly fraudulent pro-Trump electors and two attorneys who helped coordinate their efforts.

“The individuals named in this case schemed to hijack Wisconsin’s role in selecting the president of the United States and to override the will of the voters,” Jeff Mandell, president and lead counsel at Law Forward, another public interest group backing the suit, said in a statement. “We must hold them accountable for their illegal, unprecedented, and profoundly anti-democratic actions.”

The plan to substitute slates of pro-Trump electors from key battleground states where former President Trump lost fell apart on Jan. 6, 2021, when former Vice President Mike Pence declined to reject Biden’s valid electors.

The Department of Justice and the House panel probing the Jan. 6 attack have both said they are looking into the circumstances surrounding the bid to put forth Trump electors from states won by Biden.

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