Arizona and Wisconsin certify Biden's election victory in latest blow to Trump

Election workers count ballots at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Centre in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov 6, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOENIX (BLOOMBERG) - Arizona and Wisconsin made Democrat Joe Biden's victories in those states official on Monday (Nov 30), dealing the latest blow to President Donald Trump's campaign to overturn his defeat.

Biden defeated Trump by 10,457 votes in Arizona, according to the official results certified by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in Phoenix.

The process was overseen by Governor Doug Ducey, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel.

The certification confirms that Biden won the state and triggers the appointment of electors who will cast Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes for Biden when they meet on Dec 14, unless a court intervenes.

Wisconsin Elections Commission Chairwoman Ann Jacobs also officially confirmed the election result on Monday, sending it to Democratic Governor Tony Evers to appoint electors for the state's 10 electoral votes.

Jacobs's action also starts a five-day period for Trump to appeal the outcome of a recount.

The Trump campaign requested and paid US$3 million (S$4 million) for a recount of two heavily Democratic counties that confirmed Biden's win in the state and even increased his more than 20,000-vote margin of victory over Trump.

The Trump campaign attacked practices around absentee ballots when it requested the recount in the two counties, but election officials in the state have repeatedly defended the integrity of the election.

Arizona and Wisconsin are the last contested battleground states to make their presidential election results official.

Pennsylvania, Michigan and Nevada certified Biden's victories last week, and Georgia made his win there official on Nov 20.

It's yet another loss in efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn his defeat by challenging the election results in court and seeking to halt the certification in some states, despite failing to produce evidence.

Those tactics have met with numerous court defeats.

"This election was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona's laws and elections procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary," Hobbs said before certifying the results there.

The state also certified the victory of Democrat Mark Kelly over Republican US Senator Martha McSally. Kelly will be sworn in on Wednesday at noon, according to a senior Democratic aide.

At the same time the Arizona results were being made official, Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was participating in a meeting on Monday at a Phoenix hotel with Republican legislators to discuss "election irregularities and fraud."

Giuliani was part of a similar meeting last week in Pennsylvania that featured Trump calling in to complain without evidence that the election was fraudulent.

Biden's victory in Arizona doesn't qualify for an automatic recount because the winning margin is greater than the lesser of 200 votes or 1/10 of 1 per cent of the difference between the two candidates.

There's no provision for a losing candidate to request a recount, according to the secretary of state's office. Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward has said the party intends to file a challenge to the results of the election after the canvass is complete.

The certification proceeded after a Maricopa County judge dismissed a lawsuit by the Arizona Republican Party on Nov. 19 that sought to force the state's most-populous county to complete a hand-recount of some ballots, despite having no evidence of voter fraud or software errors. Democrats had accused the state GOP of trying to make the county miss the state's certification deadline.

Trump has so far refused to concede, but he acknowledged during an interview Sunday on Fox News that the fight to overturn his re-election defeat "probably" won't reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which had been the goal of his legal team.

The president and his lawyers have also been calling for Republican-controlled legislatures in swing states to ignore Biden's popular vote victories and name competing slates of Trump electors. But several legislative leaders have said that won't happen, and legal experts say state legislatures can't override the appointment of Biden electors after vote certifications.

"The certification of Arizona's FALSE results is unethical and knowingly participating in the corruption that has disenfranchised AZ voters," Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, who participated in the meeting in Phoenix with Giuliani, said on Twitter.

The US General Services Administration has acknowledged Biden as the apparent winner and the president called on his agencies to cooperate. That designation triggered a formal transition process, giving the president-elect and his team access to agency officials, briefing books and other government resources, including some US$6 million in funding.

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