Trump campaign challenges election results in Wisconsin Supreme Court

Makini Brice and Tom Hals

By Makini Brice and Tom Hals

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign filed a petition on Tuesday challenging Wisconsin's presidential vote results with the state's supreme court, the latest in a series of so-far unsuccessful attempts to reverse Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the Nov. 3 election.

The petition was submitted as Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday that the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The Republican's campaign and his supporters' efforts have sputtered in challenges to Biden victories in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, even with a judiciary reshaped by the president.

The petition alleges that Wisconsin election officials were directed to fill in missing information on ballot envelopes, issued absentee ballots without receiving applications and allowed people to improperly claim a "confined" absentee voting status.

The petition takes issue with election officials in Madison hosting an event where officials collected and checked ballots in city parks, not polling stations.

On Monday, Wisconsin certified Biden as winner of the state. The campaign is seeking withdrawal of that certification.

Election law experts said the case might have better chances than other recent lawsuits but the court is highly unlikely to grant the campaign's request to invalidate 221,323 absentee ballots. Biden won Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes.

The court's conservative majority might find that some election rules were broken but it also might determine it can't penalize voters because state officials made procedural mistakes, said Ned Foley of Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Even if successful, the campaign would still need to overturn the results in several other states. Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, said Trump’s legal challenges have been “a fundraising juggernaut,” providing a motive for filing long-shot cases.

A spokesman for the Wisconsin Supreme Court said there was no timeline for deciding to take the case.

Also on Tuesday, a Republican member of Congress, Mike Kelly, and other Republican plaintiffs said they asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Saturday ruling by Pennsylvania's high court dismissing their case. They had sought to nullify Pennsylvania's certification of Biden's victory.

Alan Ball, a professor at Marquette University who studies the Wisconsin Supreme Court, said the justices were unlikely to side with Trump given that it seems obvious Biden won the election. "It's hard to imagine that the court would relish jumping into something this futile now."

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Makini Brice in Washington and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by David Gregorio and Grant McCool)