The Wisconsin Election Commission on Thursday issued an order to recount more than 800,000 ballots cast in two heavily liberal counties at the behest of President Donald Trumps.
The order, required by law after Trump paid $ 3 million for the recount, was accepted after a resentful debate lasting more than five hours Wednesday night that foreshadowed the coming partisan battle.
It’s just remarkable that the six of us, in a civilized way, cannot accept this stuff, Democratic Commissioner Mark Thomsen said for hours after the debate began. The commission is divided 3-3 between Democrats and Republicans.
Recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, where Joe Biden edged Trump by more than two to one, will begin on Friday and must be completed by December 1.
Milwaukee County officials said they plan to complete the recount by Wednesday. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell did not provide an estimated completion date.
Biden won the entire state by 20,608 votes. The Trump campaign has alleged irregularities in the counties, although no evidence of illegal activity has been presented.
We understand that the eyes of the world will be on those Wisconsin counties over the next several weeks, Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s senior election official said Thursday. We look forward to once again demonstrating the strength, security, integrity and transparency of our electoral systems in Wisconsin.
Supporters of President Donald Trump react at rally following announcement of President-elect Joe Biden’s defeat to President Trump [File: Morry Gash/AP Photo]The commission discussed changes to its manual that provides advice to local election officials on how to conduct recounts. In the end, they decided not to refer to the manual in order, but updated parts of it to reflect accommodations for the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioners are deadlocked on changing the manual that Democrats and Election Commission staff say would bring the guidelines into line with current state law.
Republicans backed down, saying the guidelines should not be changed after Trump called for the recount.
Their inability to come to an agreement left guidelines in place that requests for postal votes must be approved as part of the recount, even though Commission staff said this was not required by law.
Democratic commissioners said they were certain the recount was going to go to court even though Trump’s claims were baseless.
Board chairwoman Ann Jacobs, Democrat, said Trump’s claim that election clerks sent out thousands of postal ballots to voters who did not ask for them was absurd, factually bizarre and a vague and paranoid plot.
What we shouldn’t be doing is watering this baloney plant, she says.
Republican Commissioners Dean Knudson and Bob Spindell questioned whether election observers would be treated fairly by Democratic Clerks for Milwaukee and Madison counties. At one point, Knudson even appeared to question whether the postal ballots requested on the election commissions website were invalid due to the way requests are recorded.
I hope we haven’t created a system at WEC that makes people call for a ballot that is actually not in accordance with the law, he said.
Knudson, a former state lawmaker, has served on the commission since 2017 and, like many Wisconsin officials, has encouraged voters to register for postal votes on the website. In August, he tweeted a link to the site with the urge to request the postal vote now.
Supporters respond to news of President-elect Joe Biden’s defeat to President Trump [Morry Gash/AP Photo]Democrats called the Knudsons’ concerns far-fetched, noting that the system had been in place and unchallenged for years.
Thomsen said Trump was contesting the validity of the election only because he lost, but had no problem with Wisconsins electoral rules in 2016 when he won by less than 23,000 votes.
Milwaukee County is the largest of the states, home to the city of Milwaukee, and blacks make up about 27% of the population, more than any other county. Dane County is home to the liberal capital of Madison and the flagship University of Wisconsin campus.
Disputes within the commission echoed what happened in Michigan on Tuesday. Republicans on a prospecting board for the county that includes Detroit temporarily halted certification of the vote after claiming that voting records in parts of the predominantly black city were out of balance.
The standoff resulted in allegations of racism from Democrats before the board later voted unanimously to certify the results. Republicans have said they want to change their stance again, but officials said certification of the vote will stand.
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