WASHINGTON — Getting nowhere in the courts, President Donald Trump’s scattershot effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is shifting toward obscure election boards that certify the vote as Trump and his allies seek to upend the electoral process, sow chaos and perpetuate unsubstantiated doubts about the count.

The battle is centered in the battleground states that sealed Biden’s win.

In Michigan, two Republican election officials in the state’s largest county initially refused to certify results despite no evidence of fraud. In Arizona, officials are balking at signing off on vote tallies in a rural county.

The moves don’t reflect a coordinated effort across the battleground states that broke for Biden, local election officials said. Instead, they seem to be inspired by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric about baseless fraud and driven by Republican acquiescence to broadsides against the nation’s electoral system as state and federal courts push aside legal challenges filed by Trump and his allies.

Still, what happened in Wayne County, Michigan, on Tuesday was a jarring reminder of the disruptions that can still be caused as the nation works through the process of affirming the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.

There is no precedent for the Trump team’s widespread effort to delay or undermine certification, according to University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas.

“It would be the end of democracy as we know it,” Douglas said. “This is just not a thing that can happen.”

Certifying results is a routine yet important step after local election officials have tallied votes, reviewed procedures, checked to ensure votes were counted correctly and investigated discrepancies. Typically, this certification is done by a local board of elections and then, later, the results are certified at the state level.

But as Trump has refused to concede to Biden and continues to spread false claims of victory, this mundane process is taking on new significance.

Among key battleground states, counties in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin have all made it through the initial step of certifying results. Except for Wayne County, this process has largely been smooth. Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia still haven’t concluded their local certifications.

Then all eyes turn to statewide certification.

In Wayne County, the two Republican canvassers at first balked at certifying the vote, winning praise from Trump, and then reversed course after widespread condemnation. A person familiar with the matter said Trump reached out to the canvassers, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, on Tuesday evening after the revised vote to express gratitude for their support.

Time is running short for Trump. Across the nation, recounts and court challenges must wrap up and election results must be certified by Dec. 8. That’s the constitutional deadline ahead of the Electoral College meeting the following week.

Matt Morgan, the Trump campaign’s general counsel, said last week the campaign was trying to halt certification in battleground states until it could get a better handle on vote tallies and whether it would have the right to automatic recounts. Right now, Trump is requesting a recount in Wisconsin in two counties, and Georgia is doing an hand audit after Biden led by a slim margin of 0.3 percentage points, but there is no mandatory recount law in the state. The law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.

Some in the president’s orbit have held out hope that by delaying certification, GOP-controlled state legislatures will get a chance to select different electors, either overturning Biden’s victory or sending it to the House, where Trump would almost surely win.

But most advisers to the president consider that a fever dream. Trump’s team has been incapable of organizing even basic legal activities since the election, let alone the widescale political and legal apparatus needed to persuade state legislators to try to undermine the will of their states’ voters.

Lawsuits have been filed by Trump allies in Michigan and Nevada seeking to stop certification. Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani argued to stop vote certification in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, the first time he’d been in a courtroom in decades. And the same day, the Arizona Republican Party asked a judge to bar Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, from certifying until the court issues a decision about the party’s lawsuit seeking a new hand count of a sampling of ballots.

The party is also putting pressure on county officials across the state to delay certification, even though there hasn’t been any evidence of legitimate questions about the vote tally showing that Biden won Arizona.

“The party is pushing for not only the county supervisors but everyone responsible for certifying and canvassing the election to make sure that all questions are answered so that voters will have confidence in the results of the election,” said Zach Henry, spokesman for the Arizona Republican Party.

While most counties in Arizona are pressing ahead with certification, officials in Mohave County decided to delay until Nov. 23, citing what they said was uncertainty about the fate of election challenges across the country.

“There are lawsuits all over the place on everything, and that’s part of the reason why I’m in no big hurry to canvass the election,” Mohave County Supervisor Ron Gould said Monday.

Officials in all of Georgia’s 159 counties were supposed to have certified their results by last Friday. But a few have yet to certify as the state works through a hand tally of some 5 million votes.

“They are overwhelmed, and they are trying to get to everything,” said Gabriel Sterling, a top official with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. “Some of these are smaller, less resourced counties, and there are only so many people who can do so many things.”

In addition, a few counties must recertify their results after previously uncounted votes were discovered during the audit.

Once counties have certified, the focus turns to officials at the state level who are charged with signing off on the election. This varies by state. For instance, a bipartisan panel in Michigan certifies elections, but in Georgia it’s the responsibility of the elected secretary of state, who has already faced calls by fellow Republicans to resign.

In Nevada, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s role in certification is largely ministerial, but she still got a batch of emails urging her not to certify “potentially fraudulent election results,” a spokeswoman said Wednesday. The Justice Department had been looking into one potential case of fraud in the state over voter rolls, but an AP analysis found the case doesn’t appear to hold much water.

In Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, a Republican board member, Joyce Dombroski-Gebhardt, said she will not certify the county’s election without an audit of at least 10% of the votes to ensure that some voters did not vote twice.

Trump won the county, where the election board is made up of three Democrats and two Republicans. A Democrat on the board, Peter Oullette, said he had no doubt that the rest of the board will sign the certification on Monday.

Philadelphia also had plans to certify results on Monday.

And some delays could still happen given the crushing workload election officials faced this year during the pandemic, according to Suzanne Almeida with Common Cause Pennsylvania, a good government group that helps with voter education and monitors election work in the state.

“A delay in certification doesn’t necessarily mean there are shenanigans; sometimes it just takes longer to go through all the mechanics to get to certification,” Almeida said.

———

Cassidy reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers Bob Christie and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Kate Brumback in Atlanta; and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

(22) comments

Greg F

What trump is doing here is trying to subvert the entire election process. This is the very definition of subversion, along with refusing to cooperate in the peaceful transfer of power. Every day that orange a-hole keeps this up, he is further endangering the nation and its people. All Agent Orange is doing is trying to stay away from the hundreds to thousands of charges and lawsuits awaiting him once he loses his supposed immunity for being the POS POTUS he has been. He has not done one thing for anybody hurt by fires or hurricanes, does not even acknowledge them...and has absolutely no concern for anyone but himself. Yet here we get Joisycow and Piddle and the like standing up for their class clown and hoping he gets to be Student Body President once again. He lost. Get over it. He is seeking petty revenge for his deluded version of his treatment in 2016. Again...this is clearly subversion. There should be charges and appropriate penalties or this will happen again.

jerseygrl42

election stolen and more evidence every day...Trump will be re-elected and biden can go back to his man cave where he belongs

Hayduke2

You really are tripping! 24 legal challenges LAUGHED out by judges. You are correct in that someone is trying to steal the election and trash Democracy, it is Trump and supporters like you.

jerseygrl42

and isn't it a shame when the supposed defenders of law turn away fro the facts that this election has been stolen by the monied lefties....shame on them and too bad for the citizens

Dwasserba

Trump is like a guest you weren't sure you wanted but who had nowhere else to go and now it's amazingly hard to get out. He has other places. Pack him up. Change the locks.

Greg F

Like that old SNL skit The Thing that Wouldn't Leave https://vimeo.com/70753317

public-redux

C’mon Pence and Cabinet members. Be patriotic. Invoke the 25th Amendment.

Greg F

Screw 25th....this is criminal what he is doing. Subversion is a crime.

Thewheelone

Over 250,000 dead from covid and no word about it from the president in days. What is he doing all day long? Surely not being the chief executive of this country, for sure. What is the white house Corona virus task force up to these days? To my fellow posters of this forum who voted for him: Do you still believe he cares about this country and the welfare of the people in it? What more do you need to see that will tell you that your vote on him was a mistake?

bnick467

The President*, who has acted like a petulant child his entire life, is now throwing a temper tantrum because he lost, and lashing out at anyone and everyone he can because they won't help him cheat. Who couldn't see this coming a light-year away?

bosco

He needs to exit gracefully and start planning his run for 2024. That will give the socialists enough time to screw up the economy with their "free stuff" policies and enough time for Antifa to get some rest.

[ninja]

Hayduke2

Yup, the government may have to make some hard decisions because of how badly Trump and Republican followers screwed up the deficit, covid response, gave tax breaks to those who least need it and continue to fail to govern. Happens often when a hard headed nationalist gets the presidency.

Bosco, can you run for federal office if you are serving time in prison? Asking for an elected official, soon to be kicked out of office🤷‍♂️.

olefool

History belies the veracity of your comment bosco.... FDR had to cleanup the Hoover mess; Carter had to clean up the Nixon/Ford mess; Clinton had to clean up the Reagan/Bush mess; Obama had to clean up the GWBush mess; and now, the most egregious of all Biden will have to clean up the Trump devastation.... As it has been always, Democrats bring peace and prosperity while Republicans bring war, pestilence and economical disaster. History proves that the last honorable Republican President was Eisenhauer, flat out the best warrior and president.. There's nothing or no one in the current GOP that's even in the same universe as Eisenhauer or any Democrat. ..

phydeaux994

Scoreboard Scoreboard Dems 2 saves Reps 1 failure 2 disasters...figure it out bosco

newspostreader

Exactly. The same one who won 4 years ago but also said that election was rigged the entire way until Clinton conceded. Everything is rigged against him. He has been so spoiled his entire life that he can't accept that he didn't win. Ratings are important to him as he needs his ego stroked. Meanwhile many of his followers are "uneducated" (using his OWN words here) and don't realize he is scamming them for more donations. He knows he lost but he also knows he has a lot of campaign debt so he needs to make some more money before he concedes.

bosco

I lived on the west coast many years ago and recall that in San Francisco there was a transvestite who dressed up in a nun's habit and called him/herself "Nun Of The Above". He/She often registered as a candidate in local races in San Francisco and gave the citizens who didn't like either party or candidate a way to voice their displeasure.

[ninja]

Hayduke2

And the point of this is?

phydeaux994

Admit you were wrong bosco, and move on. We’ll forgive you. A lot less embarrassing than sticking with this maniac.

bosco

KMA, Fido, and move on. I was merely posting an electoral anecdote from years ago and you have to drop in a sling poo.

[ninja]

Dwasserba

People were massed near the White House Saturday on his behalf and when he just drove by on his way to golf, some wept. What the h. It's not like he even touched you. Or joined you. Think about it. Do you have cooties?

Hayduke2

Can’t miss his t-time to associate with commoners

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