The clock is now ticking for a partial recount in Dane and Milwaukee counties.
Last night, the state’s Elections Commission outlined a timeline and procedures for that recount. In a long and sometimes heated meeting, the bipartisan commission ultimately left issues of public health and the state of absentee ballots up in the air.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission was split on party lines last night, arguing for nearly six hours over procedures for the upcoming recount in two Wisconsin counties.
Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe says the Trump campaign has paid $3 million for a partial recount in Dane and Milwaukee counties.
“I know that the eyes of the world will be on these two Wisconsin counties for the next few weeks,” Wolfe says.
The elections commission meeting, made up of three democrats and three republicans, saw several heated arguments throughout the night.
Commissioner Chairwoman Ann Jacobs, a Democrat, responding to Republican Commissioner Robert Spindell, lambasted the commissioner for, as she saw it, questioning the integrity of election clerks in the two counties.
“I think that’s absurd, I think it’s factually bizarre, and, excuse me, the issue is not some vague paranoid conspiracy,” Jacobs said.
Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson made several accusations against his Democrat counterparts.
“The democrat party, and our democrat appointees on the commission, has tried over and over and over and over and over again to change our election processes under the cover of the pandemic,” Knudson said.
The commission eventually approved the recount, but struggled to find a compromise on several issues, including health standards and absentee ballot counts.
Commissioner Knudson pushed for recount observers to be exempt from local health ordinances to allow them to better watch the recount, something that chairwoman Jacobs also heavily criticized.
“Not in a million years am I going to sacrifice the lives of our poll workers on the altar of this view,” Knudson said.
While the Commission agreed to change procedures and grant candidate representatives greater access during the recount, administrator Wolfe says health and safety standards will be up to the Board of Canvassers in Dane and Milwaukee county.
Commissioners also deadlocked over whether to also include absentee ballot requests in the recount, arguing at one point over the legitimacy of the MyVote Wisconsin website where voters could request an absentee ballot.
The tied vote means absentee ballot applications must be approved as part of the recount, even though the Commission’s own staff says that’s not required by state law.
The 13 day timer for the recount begins today, and will end on December 1st. The Dane County Board of Canvassers says their recount starts tomorrow, and will continue until the 30th, excluding Thanksgiving.
Last night, the Commission also set a November 27th deadline for a post-election audit of voting machines, which happens after every election to guard against errors or fraud. 5% of the state’s voting machines, across all counties, will be randomly selected for an audit. In Dane County, that public test of equipment will happen Saturday morning at the Monona Terrace.