After sending $3 million by a wire transfer last night and dropping off a petition this morning to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, the Trump Campaign today has officially completed a request for a partial recount, managing to do so in a tight time window.
The recount petition is only for Dane and Milwaukee counties, the two most populous and liberal-leaning counties in the state. Together, they represent more than 1/3 of Biden’s statewide vote.
Under Wisconsin statute, the Trump campaign must foot the bill. That’s about $2.7 million for both counties, substantially less than a recount for the entire state which would cost a little less than $8 million.
Trump lost two weeks ago by more than 20,000 votes. But ever since every major news outlet declared former Vice President Joe Biden as the winner in Wisconsin, Donald Trump has bolstered and created unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in Wisconsin and other battleground states while also threatening a recount.
Dane and Milwaukee county are gearing up. Bryan Rothgery, public information manager for the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, explains the process.
“They do recount all the ballots by running them through the balloting machines, just like they are run through the machines on election day, said Rothgery. “And if there are any challenges to any ballots, [such as] an observer alleges that a ballot is invalid for some reason, then it would be reported that municipal clerk.”
Rothgery added “Then that municipal clerk will come up to the county elections commission – the board of canvassers – and present those challenges. And the board of canvassers will make a decision whether to exclude or not exclude a ballot from the count.”
Milwaukee County has reserved an entire floor of the Wisconsin Center, a convention center in downtown Milwaukee, for the recount process. Rothgery says it will take the county’s 18 municipalities one day to complete the recount in and five days for the city of Milwaukee.
“So we won’t take the full 13 days. We hopefully will be done before Thanksgiving,” said Rothgery.
Meanwhile, Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal that he expects the recount in Dane County will require up to the December first deadline. The recount will take place in the Monona Terrace, and will cost more than $700,000 in Dane County alone.
The petition from the Trump campaign cites multiple unproven claims of voter fraud. One claim is that Wisconsin Municipal clerks altered absentee ballots by writing in missing witness addresses. Yet this practice has been in place for four years, after Republican members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission requested it in 2016.
While election officials worry about conducting a recount in a pandemic, Rothgery says that Milwaukee county will be taking all necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of workers and volunteers. But he’s concerned how the recount could affect the spread of the pandemic.
“This recount petition was certainly not filed in the interest of protecting public health,” said Rothgery. “We are at the height of the pandemic right now and everyone should be staying at home and sheltering in place. If a recount is ordered we’re required to carry out the process under law. ”
The recount is unlikely to gain Trump the more than 20,000 votes needed to flip the state. In 2016, under a statewide recount requested by third-party candidate Jill Stein, Trump’s margin increased by 131 votes.
December 1 at noon is the deadline to complete the recount, the same day the elections commission must certify statewide results.