The ten-day vote recount effort, which involved hundreds of processors and cost the Trump campaign an estimated $740,000, shifted the results of Dane County’s election by 58 net votes, up from 45 reported yesterday.
According to Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, approximately 150 ballots were dismissed due to issues with voter or witness signatures. He says that the total amount of discounted ballots is slightly higher than the last presidential election in 2016.
Since Dane County uses a secret ballot system, those votes will be discounted using a “draw down” — that is, 150 random ballots will be chosen from their respective precincts and discounted.
Over in Milwaukee County, the recount only further cemented Biden’s lead. The Trump campaign forked over around two million dollars for that effort — only for Biden’s net margin of victory to increase by 132 votes.
Trump needed to flip about 20,500 votes to take the state.
Historically, recounts in Wisconsin only shift results around by a few hundred votes at the most. Even former Republican Governor Scott Walker expressed skepticism that this recount would substantially alter the results of the election, tweeting that “20,000 is a high hurdle.”
During the ten-day process, Trump campaign representatives raised a number of complaints over ballots they deemed invalid. The president and his campaign have also repeatedly called Wisconsin’s election into question, baselessly arguing that the state was subject to widespread voter fraud.
According to virtually every high-ranking election official in the state, including Dane County Clerk Scott Mcdonell, that is a false assertion.
“What this recount showed was that there was absolutely no evidence of voter fraud in this election, McDonell says. “This incredible level of transparency should provide reassurance to the public that the election was run properly and accurately.”
Speaking with reporters yesterday, McDonell raised concerns that the Trump campaign’s targeting of Dane and Milwaukee Counties — two blue strongholds — could be a violation of equal protection under the law.
The Trump campaign has filed a number of complaints against ballots from the two counties, excluding voters using the same processes in Republican-leaning counties.
“A lot of these objections would be true in Waukesha, Door and Ashland,” he says. “And yet, only Dane and Milwaukee are being targeted for that objection, which to me is clearly an equal protection violation.”
Even though the recount has concluded, the legal battle over Wisconsin’s ballots is just beginning.
Even before the results of the recounts finalized, Trump tweeted that his campaign would be filing lawsuits against those results. At the forefront of that legal push is an effort to disenfranchise more than 238,000 voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties.
According to an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, most of the dropped ballots in Dane County would be from Madison.
The first of the two arguments alleges that all ballots cast early and in-person are illegitimate, since they did not include a separate written application.
The second challenge is to ballots cast by indefinitely confined voters — those who, due to health or other reasons — are unable to physically vote at a polling place on election day. Per Wisconsin state law, indefinitely confined voters are excused from certain voter ID requirements when they submit their ballots.
A separate challenge to indefinitely confined voter provisions is currently before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Until they issue a decision on that case, McDonell says that election officials will continue to go by the state’s pre-existing guidelines.
“This is being litigated in the Supreme Court right now,” he says. “The way it stands now is that you, the voter, determines if you are indefinitely confined. Somebody else doesn’t determine that for you. ‘How disabled are you?’ is a really awkward question to ask.”
The Dane County Board of Canvassers shot down both of those challenges during the recount, but did place them on file for future litigation.
Trump’s campaign isn’t the only group challenging the results from November 3rd. The conservative group Wisconsin Voters Alliance has filed a suit with the state’s conservative-leaning Supreme Court asking to completely toss out the results of Wisconsin’s election.
The group alleges that the election was so improperly handled that the state’s high court should invalidate every single Wisconsin ballot. Instead, they want the Republican-controlled legislature to select presidential electors.
The court’s justices have not yet indicated if they’ll accept the case, but some of the state’s Republican leaders have already come out against the idea.
Earlier today, Wisconsin Elections Commission chair Ann Jacobs, alongside administrator Meagan Wolfe, formally wrapped the state’s canvass via teleconference. Jacobs’ certification is one of the last steps in formally awarding Wisconsin’s ten electors to Joe Biden.
“I have examined the statement and I am now signing it as the official state determination of the results of the November 3rd, 2020 election and the canvass,” Jacobs said. “No certificates of election will be issued today, that will be issued as part of the elections commission meeting tomorrow.”
(Photo: Jonah Chester)