Wisconsin Recount Grows Biden’s Margin, But Trump Says Fight Isn’t Over
President promises a lawsuit while Biden's margin grows by 87 votes.
After re-examining approximately 800,000 votes, a two-county recount resulted in Joe Biden‘s margin of victory growing by 87 votes. Biden defeated Donald Trump by 20,695 votes in Wisconsin. But according to Trump himself, this isn’t the end.
“The Wisconsin recount is not about finding mistakes in the count, it is about finding people who have voted illegally, and that case will be brought after the recount is over, on Monday or Tuesday. We have found many illegal votes. Stay tuned!” he tweeted Saturday. The campaign has objected to over 200,000 absentee ballots, including one cast by one of its own attorneys. Despite earlier tweets by Trump alleging fraud in Milwaukee, the campaign has not presented evidence of fraud in either county.
Dane County concluded its recount on Sunday morning with a net improvement for Trump of 45 votes. Both candidates lost votes in the county, largely the result of previously-accepted absentee ballots having been found to lack the necessary signatures or addresses. Biden lost 91 votes, Trump lost 46. Biden won the state’s second-most populous county by 181,340 votes.
The Trump campaign, as required by state law, wired $3 million to the Wisconsin Elections Commission two weeks ago to pay for the recount. Milwaukee County’s portion, held at the Wisconsin Center, was expected to cost $2 million but Milwaukee County Clerk George L. Christenson said Friday that things ending ahead of schedule would likely result in a savings that would be refunded to the campaign. Dane County’s portion was estimated to cost approximately $750,000.
Assuming the full estimated cost of $2.75 million was incurred for both counties, Trump paid $31,609.25 for each vote Biden’s margin expanded by.
In Milwaukee, the Trump campaign is challenging absentee ballots from three different categories: all in-person absentee ballots, 108,947, on the basis of an insufficient application; all applications and absentee ballots cast by voters who declared themselves “indefinitely confined,” particularly after March 25th (approximately 19,000 ballots), on the basis that clerks provided improper guidance; all absentee ballots where clerks completed the witness address (commonly called “mismatched ink” envelopes) on the basis that the address is incomplete and the ballot should be rejected.
In total the campaign filed objections to approximately 160,000 absentee ballots and associated envelopes in the county.
In each case, the county commission said it was following state guidance and law in accepting the ballots.
A 2016 statewide recount, paid for by the Green Party, resulted in Trump gaining 131 votes.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission is scheduled to meet December 1st to certify the election results. Two pending lawsuits aim to prevent them from doing so. One filed by the conservative Wisconsin Voters Alliance mirrors many of the Trump campaign’s arguments regarding absentee ballots. A second suit, filed by a conservative Chippewa Falls attorney, seeks to have all dropbox-returned absentee ballots tossed. Each suit proposes a remedy of throwing out the election and having the Republican-controlled state Legislature appoint the Electoral College delegates.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has yet to formally accept any of the suits.
Even if the Supreme Court rules in the plaintiff’s favor, the Legislature would still need to replace the Electoral College delegates.
“This recount demonstrated what we already know: that elections in Milwaukee County are fair, transparent, accurate and secure,” said Christenson when Milwaukee’s recount concluded Friday. “We have once again demonstrated good government in the state of Wisconsin.” He was critical before and after the recount of the Trump campaign picking only Milwaukee and Dane counties to be recounted amid a pandemic.
“For me what this recount showed was that there was absolutely no evidence of voter fraud in this election even after looking at over 300,000 ballots, over 254,000 envelopes,” said Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell on Sunday. “Really this incredible level of transparency should provide reassurance to the public that the election was run properly and accurately and there was no fraud.” He expressed frustration that the Trump campaign was only trying to throw out votes in the counties that delivered the most votes for the Democratic candidate.
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