Loading...

Wisconsin Recount Cleared to Begin After Partisan Fight

November 19, 2020by Scott Bauer, Associated Press
Wisconsin Recount Cleared to Begin After Partisan Fight
Workers count Milwaukee County ballots on Election Day at Central Count in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Elections Commission has agreed to issue an order to recount ballots in two heavily liberal counties at President Donald Trump’s request, but only after hours of contentious debate that may foreshadow the partisan battle ahead.

Trump paid the $3 million required for the recount and issuing the order was expected to be a pro forma move, but it took six hours for the commission — split 3-3 along party lines — to agree on the order late Wednesday.

“It’s just remarkable the six of us in a civilized fashion can’t agree to this stuff,” Democratic commissioner Mark Thomsen said hours into the debate.

The recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, where Joe Biden outpolled Trump by a more than 2-to-1 margin, will begin Friday and must be done by Dec. 1. Biden won statewide by 20,608 votes. Trump’s campaign has cited “irregularities” in the counties, although no evidence of illegal activity has been presented.

The commission argued over changes to its manual that provides guidance to local elections officials over how to conduct recounts. Ultimately, they decided not to reference the manual in the order, but they did update some parts to reflect accommodations for the coronavirus pandemic.

The commissioners deadlocked on making changes to the manual that Democrats and elections commission staff said would bring the guidance into line with current state law. Republicans balked, saying the guidelines should not be changed after Trump filed for the recount.

Their inability to agree leaves in place guidance that says absentee ballot applications must be approved as part of the recount, even though commission staff said that’s not required under the law.

Democratic commissioners said they were certain the recount was headed to court even though Trump’s claims were without merit.

Board Chair Ann Jacobs, a Democrat, said 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 be doing is watering that plant of baloney,” she said.

Republican commissioners Dean Knudson and Bob Spindell questioned whether election observers would be treated fairly by Democratic county clerks in Milwaukee and Madison. At one point, Knudson even appeared to question 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 as outlandish, noting that the system has been in place unchallenged for years.

Thomsen said Trump was challenging the validity of the election only because he lost, but he had no problem with Wisconsin’s election rules in 2016 when he won by fewer than 23,000 votes.

Milwaukee County is the state’s largest, home to the city of Milwaukee, and Black people make up about 27% of the population, more than any other county. Dane County is home to the liberal capital city of Madison and the flagship University of Wisconsin campus.

The disputes at the commission had echoes of what happened in Michigan on Tuesday. Republicans on a canvassing board for the county that includes Detroit temporarily stopped certification of the vote after claiming that poll books in certain parts of the majority-Black city were out of balance. The deadlock brought claims of racism from Democrats before the board later voted unanimously to certify the results.

In The News

Health

Voting

State News

June 21, 2022
by Dan McCue
Justices to Decide Future of Mob Watchdog on Waterfront

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will try to resolve a dispute between New York and New Jersey... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will try to resolve a dispute between New York and New Jersey over the latter’s desire to back out of a 1953 agreement to work together to combat corruption and racketeering on the waterfront docks the two states... Read More

April 13, 2022
by Reece Nations
First Bus of Texas Migrants Arrives Near Capitol 

WASHINGTON — A week after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to begin transporting busloads of migrants to Washington, D.C., the... Read More

WASHINGTON — A week after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to begin transporting busloads of migrants to Washington, D.C., the first transport arrived blocks away from the Capitol building. At Abbott’s direction, the Texas Division of Emergency Management chartered the buses to transport the people apprehended... Read More

February 22, 2022
by Kate Michael
‘Freedom First’ Approach Sees Florida Tourism Grow Beyond Pre-Pandemic Levels

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida tourism is rebounding exceptionally well and even surpassing pre-pandemic levels according to a recent announcement from... Read More

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida tourism is rebounding exceptionally well and even surpassing pre-pandemic levels according to a recent announcement from Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Sunshine State welcomed 30.9 million visitors between October and December 2021, and nearly a full 118 million domestic visitors during the whole... Read More

California Adopts Nation's 1st 'Endemic' Virus Policy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California became the first state to formally shift to an “endemic” approach to the coronavirus with... Read More

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California became the first state to formally shift to an “endemic” approach to the coronavirus with Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement Thursday of a plan that emphasizes prevention and quick reaction to outbreaks over mandated masking and business shutdowns. The milestone, nearly two... Read More

California Oil Spill Renews Calls to Ban Offshore Drilling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara... Read More

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara spill that sparked the modern environmental movement, and the latest spill off Huntington Beach is prompting fresh calls for an end to such drilling. That's easier... Read More

September 14, 2021
by Victoria Turner
State and Local Governments Will Drive Broadband Deployment Success

States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed... Read More

States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed for nationwide high-speed broadband within President Biden’s infrastructure bill.  The broadband-related funding of the bill itself shows the federal government recognizes broadband as essential as a... Read More

News From The Well