UPDATE: Trump Campaign Pays for Recount in Two Wisconsin Counties

Politics

US President Donald Trump pauses while speaking at the Economic Club of New York at the New York Hilton Midtown November 12, 2019, in New York, New York. – European stock markets closed higher on Tuesday, helped by speculation that US President Donald Trump will postpone a tariffs decision on European-made cars. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(WFRV) – The Trump campaign says they will file a petition for a recount in two heavily Democratic counties in Wisconsin.

According to a Wednesday release, President Donald Trump’s campaign will file for a petition, “citing illegally altered absentee ballots, illegally issued absentee ballots, and illegal advice given by government officials allowing Wisconsin’s Voter ID laws to be circumvented.”

The campaign says “these two counties were selected because they are the locations of the worst irregularities.”

According to the Associated Press, Joe Biden won Milwaukee County by about 183,000 votes and Dane County by about 182,000 votes.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission confirmed Wednesday morning that they have received a $3 million wire transfer from the Trump campaign overnight.

Plaintiffs drop suit claiming fraud in Wisconsin absentees 

The Trump campaign continues, saying:

The Wisconsin Elections Commission directed Wisconsin municipal clerks to illegally alter incomplete absentee ballots contrary to Wisconsin law. Clerks were instructed that they could rely on their own “personal knowledge,” or unspecified “lists or databases at his or her disposal” to add in missing information on returned absentee ballots. Under Wisconsin law, incomplete absentee ballots may not be counted.

Wisconsin elections head says still no evidence of fraud 

“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,” says Jim Troupis, counsel to the campaign. “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.”

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 elections commission said that there were no corrections to actual absentee ballots contained inside the envelopes as some have claimed. The witness signature and address information is all contained on the envelope in which the ballot is sent.

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.

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 or 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 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 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. No evidence of wrongdoing related to absentee ballot applications has been made.

“I’m not entirely sure what they’re referring to there,” McDonell said Wednesday.

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.

Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes that year and opposed the recount brought by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

“The people have spoken and the election is over,” Trump said at the time. “We must accept this result and then look to the future.”

In Wisconsin, two pro-Trump groups along with a Wisconsin voter went to federal court to try and stop the 2016 recount, arguing in one filing that a Wisconsin recount that might “unjustifiably cast doubt upon the legitimacy of President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s victory.”

A judge did not rule on the merits of the case, but also did not stop the recount, noting that it had almost no chance of changing the outcome.

“The final Wisconsin vote is in and guess what — we just picked up an additional 131 votes,” Trump tweeted at the time after the recount was done. “The Dems and Green Party can now rest. Scam!”

The campaign says they will file for the petition on Wednesday. A resquest for a recount must be submitted by 5 p.m.

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