Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 24, 2020
MADISON — As Day 4 of Wisconsin’s partial recount dragged on Monday, a state Elections commissioner criticized the two disparate systems of oversight going on in Dane and Milwaukee counties.
And one election observer for the Trump campaign tells Empower Wisconsin the recount in Milwaukee County remains “very tense,” with elections officials “creating a sense of intimidation and bullying.”
Robert Spindell, a Republican member of the six-member Wisconsin Elections Commission, says many of the controversies and discord could be resolved if Milwaukee County would simply follow the commission’s guidelines. Instead of allowing observers to see questionable ballots up close through the plexiglass barriers as they are doing in Dane County, Milwaukee County recount supervisors wouldn’t budge on artificial safety requirements.
Spindell said observers are being forced to stand at least eight feet from ballot counters through stringent and unnecessary social distancing demands. Milwaukee County’s COVID-19 safety protocols exceed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines — and state guidelines.
“In my opinion, they are failing to follow the guidelines of the Wisconsin Elections Commission that all six commissioners approved: that observers should be able to see each and every ballot clearly. That’s not been the case,” Spindell said.
President Donald Trump’s campaign last week paid the Elections Commission $3 million for a partial recount, focusing on liberal strongholds, Dane and Milwaukee counties. Its 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.
A Trump campaign observer who has been at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center since the recount began on Friday said elections officials have been strictly enforcing their distance requirements.
“Randomly, an elections official will say, ‘Six feet! Six feet! Right now!’ One observer put a knee up on a chair and the official screamed, ‘Get your knee down now!’” she said. “They are creating a sense of intimidation and bullying.”
Some observers have been escorted out, including those who have questioned the inflexibility of the elections officials and the difficulties the observers have had doing their jobs.
“They’re frustrated. Some have protested,” the observer said. “It’s always met with hostility, not civil conversation. And if they don’t do exactly what the elections officials tell them, they get sheriff’s deputies, not just one, but several, to watch them and then remove them.”
Of course, Democrats and mainstream news outlets have vilified Trump campaign representatives and Republicans, accusing them of obstructing their march to re-crown Joe Biden winner of Wisconsin. They have downplayed, even denounced, the call for the partial recount, dismissing the concerns of many of the 1.61 million Wisconsinites who voted for Donald Trump.
With so many obstructions and overruled challenges by the Dem-majority canvassing board, it appears the recount disputes are destined for court.
Elections officials had hoped to have the recount completed by Wednesday, but Spindell said at the current pace that is unlikely. It’s looking like the recount will continue at least until Saturday, with a break for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“It’s a building case, and the recount is just a small portion of the whole case. It’s a frustrating piece of it,” the Trump observer said.