Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 19, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — President Donald Trump’s campaign is seeking a partial recount of Wisconsin, focusing on liberal strongholds Dane and Milwaukee counties where the campaign claims several election laws were broken.
The Trump campaign has paid the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) $3 million for the partial recount, according to Dean Knudson, a Republican member of the Commission. WEC announced earlier this week that the bill for a full statewide recount would be $7.9 million — nearly four times as much as the Green Party paid after a similarly close presidential election in 2016.
Trump’s campaign’s petition cited “illegally altered absentee ballots, illegally issued absentee ballots, and illegal advice given by government officials allowing Wisconsin’s Voter ID laws to be circumvented.”
“These two counties were selected because they are the locations of the worst irregularities,” according to a campaign statement.
As Empower Wisconsin reported last week, the president’s campaign claims the Elections Commission directed local clerks to illegally alter incomplete absentee ballots contrary to state law. A commission spokesman said the directive to clerks to fill in missing witness addresses from absentee ballot certificates was approved by WEC in 2016.
But elections experts tell Empower Wisconsin the directive defies state law, which clearly states clerks must return a certificate with missing witness information to the voter. Clerks were told they could rely on their own “personal knowledge” or unspecified “lists or databases at his or her disposal” in adding information. State law prohibits such ballots from being counted.
A source close to the situation last week told Empower Wisconsin there could be hundreds of such illegal ballots in Milwaukee County alone. Trump, according to unofficial results, lost Wisconsin to Democrat challenger Joe Biden by some 20,000 votes.
The recount petition also alleges municipal clerks across Wisconsin issued absentee ballots to voters without requiring an application, in direct conflict with Wisconsin’s absentee voting safeguards.
“Despite this clear mandatory requirement, clerks uniformly issued absentee ballots without collecting a written application from persons who requested absentee ballots in person during the two week in-person absentee voting period that ran from October 20, 2020 through November 1, 2020,” the campaign statement alleges. The city of Madison hosted absentee ballot-collecting events at 200 city parks — events promoted by the Biden campaign.
And in a “clear abuse of” Wisconsin law, some Democrat county clerks — particularly in Dane and Milwaukee counties — illegally advised voters to assert that they were “indefinitely confined” because of COVID-19 to get around the state’s voter ID requirement, the Trump campaign asserts. The number of individuals claiming to “indefinitely confined” soared from about 72,000 in 2019 to 240,000 in this year’s presidential election, according to the campaign.
A substantial number of those claiming that status were sent and then returned ballots without proper identification and without otherwise meeting the requirements for that status, the statement alleges.
“The people of Wisconsin deserve to know whether their election processes worked in a legal and transparent way. Regrettably, the integrity of the election results cannot be trusted without a recount in these two counties and uniform enforcement of Wisconsin absentee ballot requirements. We will not know the true results of the election until only the legal ballots cast are counted,” Jim Troupis, counsel to the campaign and former Dane County judge, said in the statement. “We will not stop fighting for transparency and integrity in our electoral process to ensure that all Americans can trust the results of a free and fair election in Wisconsin and across the country.”
The bipartisan Elections Commission argued deep into Wednesday evening on an order directing the commencement of the recount. Said order starts the 13-day recount clock. The recount deadline is noon Dec. 1, the same day the commission must certify results from the general election.
“We understand the eyes of the world will be on these Wisconsin counties over the next few weeks. We remain committed to providing information about the process and assisting our county clerks by providing facts on the mechanics of a recount and status updates,” said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief election official.