Trump-Biden transition updates: States ramp up safety as electors forged ballots
By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 37 days.
Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern.
Dec 14, 1:39 pm
Battleground states ramp up security as electors cast ballots
With the president and his allies continuing their pressure campaign to overturn the election, some of the battleground states where Biden won are taking additional security precautions to safeguard their electors meeting Monday.
In Georgia, a spokesperson for Van R. Johnson, the mayor of Savannah and an elector for Biden this year, confirmed that he has additional security measures in place today as a “precautionary measure,” without providing details on any specifics. The measures were first reported by the New York Times.
The Democratic Party of Georgia would only say that they’ve taken “every measure” to ensure the safety of their electors.
In Michigan, where protests are planned outside the state Capitol, electors were promised police escorts, ABC News confirmed.
Late Sunday night, officials announced that the state legislature’s office buildings will be closed to the public due to “credible threats of violence.” The decision to close the state House and Senate offices while the presidential electors convene to cast their votes for Biden came from a recommendation from law enforcement. It was not motivated by anticipated protests outside the capitol, according to a statement from Amber McCann, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.
In Arizona, the secretary of state’s office is not publicizing the location of their meeting due to “security reasons,” according to a spokesperson.
-ABC News’ Kendall Karson, Alisa Wiersema, Quinn Scanlan and Meg Cunningham
Dec 14, 1:35 pm
Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects another Trump legal challenge
The normally conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled 4-3 against President Trump, rejecting his effort to challenge the state’s election recount, saying he tried to throw the challenge flag “long after the last play, or even the last game.”
“The challenge … is meritless on its face,” wrote Justice Brian Hagedorn, who spent years as the chief counsel to Republican Gov. Scott Walker, in the majority opinion.
The court’s majority takes issue with a number of the complaints leveled by the Trump campaign about how mail-in ballots were collected. But the four justices ultimately agreed that any issues should have been raised well before the election, not after the president lost.
“The issues raised in this case, had they been pressed earlier, could have been resolved long before the election,” Hagedorn wrote. “The Campaign’s delay in raising these issues was unreasonable in the extreme.”
Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack authored the dissent, which argued that the court’s majority hid behind the argument that Trump’s filing came too late, in order not to address concerns the president raised about the way ballots were collected. Roggensack said there were “numerous problems that will be repeated again and again, until this court has the courage to correct them.”
Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes.
-ABC News’ Matthew Mosk, Alex Hosenball and Soo Rin Kim
Dec 14, 1:08 pm
Nevada reminds of ‘faithless elector’ state law binding votes to will of people
In a video meeting with little fanfare, Nevada’s six Democratic electors cast votes for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — the first electors in the country to cast their votes. Silent clapping ensued at the conclusion of the meeting.
Prior to the electors casting their votes for Biden and Harris, deputy Secretary of State Mark Wlaschin reminded the electors they are legally required to vote for the Democratic ticket as it clinched more votes in the state, and if they did not, they would be replaced. At the start of the meeting, they signed a pledge agreeing to vote for the candidates who received the highest number of votes in the general election.
“In addition to this pledge, state law requires you to vote for Joseph R. Biden for president, and Kamala D. Harris for vice president. If you vote for any other person, or leave your ballot blank, neither of your ballots will be accepted, and your position as Presidential Elector will be vacated, and an alternate would be selected to fill your vacancy,” Wlaschin said.
Thirty-three states — including Nevada — and Washington, D.C., require electors to keep their pledge. In at least five states, penalties exist for defiant votes, while over a dozen states cancel and replace the rogue elector.
More laws are likely to be enacted over the coming years to require electors to follow the popular vote after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier in the year that it is constitutionally permissible to bind electors to vote for the popular vote winner.
While experts aren’t anticipating any spectacles with “faithless” electors this year, ten members of the Electoral College voted or attempted to vote against the candidate that won in their state in 2016.
-ABC News’ Kendall Karson
Dec 14, 1:06 pm
Florida Senate president tests positive for COVID-19, alternate elector to take his place
An alternate Republican elector must now cast votes for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Florida after state Sen. Wilton Simpson, the newly elected Senate president, tested positive for coronavirus and is no longer able to attend the ceremony.
Katie Betta, a spokesperson for Simpson, confirmed that the senator took a test Sunday night that came back positive. Better said Simpson tests regularly because he travels often, both for his work with the Senate and his personal business. She said that he is experiencing “some very mild symptoms,” which she said the senator “compared … to the symptoms he’s had before with allergies or like a very mild head cold.”
ABC News has asked the Republican Party of Florida who the alternate will be ahead of the electors meeting at 2 p.m.
-ABC News’ Kendall Karson
Dec 14, 9:45 am
Overview: Biden slated to speak after Electoral College votes
Starting at 10 a.m. ET and rolling through the day, electors cast their votes on Monday for president and vice president in state capitols across the country — another step towards enshrining Biden’s victory and a step that will happen irrespective of Trump’s last-ditch effort to overturn the result.
Biden is slated to deliver remarks on the Electoral College vote certification and “the strength and resilience of our democracy” from Wilmington, Delaware, around 8 p.m. Trump has an executive order signing on his schedule and has continued to air his grievances with the election on Twitter.
Monday’s casting of electoral votes is traditionally a little more than a formality with federal law requiring electors to meet the “Monday after the second Wednesday in December of presidential election years” — but as Trump resists his defeat at every turn and wages long-shot legal battles with baseless claims of fraud, the meeting comes at a tense and fragile moment for the country’s democratic institutions. Biden’s margin of victory in the Electoral College is expected to be 306 votes to Trump’s 232, if there are no surprises.
Electors gather in each of their respective states and the nation’s capital to cast separate paper ballots for president and vice president at places determined by the state legislature. Most of the meetings will be on cam via livestream and in the middle of a pandemic, but in Michigan, another threat interrupted the plan.
Officials announced late Sunday that the state legislature’s office buildings will be closed due to “credible threats of violence” after Michigan’s 16 electors meeting were scheduled to cast their ballots at the state Capitol in Lansing. In Arizona, electors were given an undisclosed location to meet and cast their ballots in an effort to avoid any confrontation with protesters.
It’s unclear how Trump’s allies and supporters, particularly those in Congress who have fallen in line with his refusal to accept the loss — despite Friday’s final rejection at the Supreme Court — will respond to Biden’s victory once the Electoral College voting is complete.
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