January 6, 2021, is remembered as a tragic day in U.S. history where pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in an effort to stop the electoral count which would confirm Joe Biden as president.
After a year of the Trump administration’s chaotic mismanagement of the country during the pandemic, the storming of the capitol was a dramatic final act in the president’s overall performance and an all-time low in his mission to overturn the election results.
While most view these events as troubling, some still question if the president truly intended to incite an insurrection. They give him the benefit of the doubt, remembering his video message to the rioters where he tells them to “go home in peace.”
While some may question his true intentions during these dramatic series of events, his thoughts become much clearer when one examines his actions on another election issue– one in Wisconsin.
After the November presidential election, Trump filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify over 221,000 ballots that he believed were illegally cast. Trump’s legal team challenged several Wisconsin laws that they believed foster illegal voting by accommodating absentee ballots.
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Their challenges included that over 170,000 votes had no paper record and laws that allowed many Wisconsinites to vote from home without an I.D. by declaring themselves “indefinitely confined.” Despite all of the votes challenged, Trump only needed 21,000 of them to be disqualified to surpass Biden’s lead in the Wisconsin election.
A recount was declared, but only in two counties, Dane and Milwaukee, which are the two most democratic counties in the state. After a thorough reexamination, Trump only gained 45 votes and Biden gained 132.
A dismal display that was only further repeated around the country. Trump won only 1 of his 62 election-related lawsuits.
“The objective bad faith of plaintiff’s counsel in filing and litigating this action is evidenced by the scope of the relief sought and their relentless pursuit of it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, well after the election results in Wisconsin had been determined and certified,” attorney for Milwaukee and Dane counties Daniel Lenz, regarding Trump’s lawsuit, said. “In essence, plaintiff’s counsel sought to disenfranchise every Wisconsin voter.”
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It was not the recount that was most troubling. Trump asked federal judges to allow the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature to decide how to cast the state’s electoral votes, instead of the voters.
The action would have nullified the state election determined by millions of Wisconsinites in favor of a ruling by the legislature. This would have been a true perversion of American democracy.
In the opinion of U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, letting state lawmakers decide the outcome of the election would have resulted in “probably the most remarkable ruling in the history of this court or the federal judiciary.”
Such a ruling in favor of Trump could have given state legislatures across the country the power to decide the outcomes of future elections, potentially countering outcomes that the general public voted for. Such a precedent would dramatically change U.S. elections by taking power away from the average voter.
This is why we should be concerned about the character of Donald Trump. His self-serving scheme to secure enough votes to overturn the election paid no attention to its potential harm on the rights of the average American. Mr. Trump didn’t seem to really care if the votes were legal or not, as long as they declared him the winner.
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Earlier this month, Gov. Tony Evers and several other Wisconsin municipalities asked federal judges to make former President Donald Trump pay potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees related to his failed challenges of Wisconsin’s election results.
Wisconsin officials seek retribution from Trump’s lawsuits, which Evers’ attorney described as “frivolous” and “without merit.” Wisconsin taxpayers deserve their money back after it was wasted on the President’s lawsuits.
Trumps’ actions in Wisconsin show that his true intentions are far less altruistic than his supporters may believe. Trump’s readiness to nullify the votes of an entire state’s population shows his true indifference to the fairness of American democracy. It also shows his true desire to manipulate our political system in a way that suits his interests, in this case to unlawfully reclaim the presidency.
Hayden Kolowrat ([email protected]) is a graduate student studying Southeast Asian studies.