On Thursday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission issued an order to recount more than 800,000 ballots cast in two counties at President Donald Trump’s request.
Despite the order being required by law after Trump paid $3 million for the recount, it was only agreed to after a debate that lasted more than five hours on Wednesday night. It gave us a glimpse at what we can expect shortly.
“It’s just remarkable the six of us in a civilized fashion can’t agree to this stuff,” said Democratic Commissioner Mark Thomsen said. The commission was split 3-3 between the Democrats and the Republicans.
The recounts are to be done in Milwaukee and Dane, where Joe Biden won over Trump by more than a 2-to-1 margin. The recounts will begin on Friday and must be completed by December 1.
Milwaukee officials said that they plan to finish the recount by Wednesday. Dane County Clerk (Scott McDonell) said, “it would be great to be done by Thanksgiving,” although he didn’t have an estimate for when they would finish the job.
Biden won the state by 20,608 votes, and although Trump’s campaign has cited “irregularities” in the counties, no evidence to back their claims were provided.
“We understand the eyes of the world will be on these Wisconsin counties over the next few weeks,” said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s top elections official. “We look forward to again demonstrating the strength, security, integrity, and transparency of our election systems in Wisconsin.”
Board Chair Ann Jacobs, who is a Democrat, said that Trump’s allegation that election clerks mailed thousands of absentee ballots to voters who hadn’t requested them was “absurd,” “factually bizarre” and a “vague, paranoid conspiracy.”
“What we ought not to be doing is watering that plant of baloney,” she said.
Two Republican commissioners, Dean Knudson and Bob Spindell, asked whether Republican election observers would be treated fairly by Democratic county clerks in Milwaukee and Madison.
Knudson even went as far as “asking” whether absentee ballots requested through the elections commission’s state website were invalid because of how the requests are recorded.
“I hope we haven’t created a system at WEC that entices people to request a ballot that actually isn’t in keeping with the law,” he said.
Democrats dismissed Knudson’s concerns, saying that the system has been in place and unchallenged for years.
Thomsen said that the only reason Trump was challenging the validity of the election is that he lost, although he had no problem with Wisconsin’s election rules in 2016 when he won by fewer than 23,000 votes.