President Donald Trump’s campaign has paid $3 million for a recount of two heavily Democratic Wisconsin counties, saying Wednesday that they were the site of the “worst irregularities” although state elections officials have said there was none.
Trump paid for the recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties overnight Tuesday and planned to submit the required paperwork to trigger the recount on Wednesday, the campaign said in a statement.
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In the two counties Trump chose for the recount, Democrat Joe Biden received 577,455 votes compared with 213,157 for Trump. Biden won statewide by 20,608 votes, based on the current canvassed results submitted by the counties.
“The people of Wisconsin deserve to know whether their election processes worked in a legal and transparent way,” said Wisconsin attorney Jim Troupis, who is working with the Trump campaign. “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.”
Trump’s campaign said that clerks wrongly added missing information on returned absentee ballots.
But guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in place since 2016, says that clerks can fix missing witness address components on the envelopes that contain absentee ballots if they have reliable information. That guidance, passed unanimously by the bipartisan elections commission, has been in place for 11 statewide elections without objection.
The Trump campaign is also alleging that voters got around Wisconsin’s photo ID requirement by claiming they were indefinitely confined and therefore didn’t have to present a photo ID in order to return their absentee ballot.
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Wisconsin law requires all voters to show an acceptable photo ID to vote both in person and by mail. It does provide exceptions for citizens who are indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness, infirmity, or are disabled for an indefinite period.
Clerks in Milwaukee and Dane counties, as the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the state in the spring, advised voters that they could cast an absentee ballot without providing a photo ID by declaring themselves “indefinitely confined” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wisconsin Republican Party sued Democratic Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell over the advice he had posted on his Facebook page. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered McDonell to stop issuing guidance that is different from the official language approved by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
The commission’s guidance says that “indefinitely confined status is for each individual voter to make based upon their current circumstances,” but the status is not to be used simply as a means of avoiding the voter ID requirement.
The Trump campaign also alleges that local election clerks issued absentee ballots to voters without requiring an application, in violation of state law.
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“I’m not entirely sure what they’re referring to there,” McDonell said Wednesday of that claim.
The recount, once formally approved by the elections commission chair, could start as soon as Thursday and no later than Saturday. It would have to be complete by Dec. 1.
Recounts in Wisconsin and across the country have historically resulted in very few vote changes. A 2016 presidential recount in Wisconsin netted Trump an additional 131 votes.
The Associated Press contributed to this article