Trump, who lost by more than 20,600 votes in Wisconsin, has alleged “errors and fraud” in the two counties, although he has not presented evidence to support his claims.
Some things to know about counting:
Biden’s victory over Trump was driven by the Democratic counties of Milwaukee and Dane, making them mature targets for Trump to try to discount votes.
The counties are home to Milwaukee, the most racially diverse city in the state, and Madison, the state Capitol and the location of the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin. Combined, Biden won the counties by a margin of more than 2 to 1.
WILL THE COUNT BE SAFE?
The count brings together hundreds of people at a time when the coronavirus is devastating Wisconsin, which has been one of the nation’s worst COVID-19 hot spots for weeks. One in 118 people in Wisconsin has tested positive in the last week. To help reduce the risk, both counties rented convention centers so that workers and observers can be properly distanced. In Milwaukee, where the count will take place at the 186,000-square-foot Wisconsin Center, everyone inside must wear a mask, pass a temperature test and maintain proper social distancing. Anyone who does not meet those requirements will be expelled.
Counts must be completed by the December 1 deadline. Milwaukee County hopes to end the day before Thanksgiving, an event that is expected to accelerate the spread of the virus. Dane County is planning 16-hour shifts and it was not expected to end before the holidays. Both plan to use machines to count the ballots, although Dane County began on Friday with manual counting of precincts randomly selected for an audit, as required by law.
Both county clerks are Democrats and are in charge of the counts. They are bringing in many of the same poll workers who counted the ballots on Election Day to process the recount. In Milwaukee, workers will organize into “groups” of two tables, with one worker at each table and up to three observers allowed in each group. Observers must stay 6 feet away and the Plexiglass barriers will provide additional protection. Four sheriff’s deputies will provide 24-hour security until the count is complete.
WHO CAN SEE? AND WHAT ABOUT THE CHALLENGES?
Citizens can see it in person. Both counties said safety would be a priority; In Milwaukee County, on-site observers will have to go through security and a temperature check and wear masks.
Both counties also offered live broadcasts.
With regard to challenges, the representatives of both campaigns must be allowed to observe and challenge the ballots, although they must “provide evidence” to justify them. Ballots in dispute are reserved for consideration by the canvassing board. Observers can also question the composition of the voting board and the procedures that are followed.
The Trump campaign on Friday objected in Dane County to the recount of all absentee ballots that do not have the corresponding written request on file and asked that the 69,000 absentee ballots cast in person in person not be counted. Dane County. Trump’s attorney, Chris Troupis, argued that certification envelopes filled out by absentee voters in person do not count under the law as a written request, even though they are identified as such.
The campaign was expected to raise the same objection in Milwaukee County.
Biden’s campaign objected, saying there is no requirement under the tally law to review requests for absences. Dane County attorney David Gault agreed that the law does not require such a review.
The Dane County Board of Electors, controlled 2-1 by Democrats, voted against Trump’s request and did not cast the ballots.
Not likely. Wisconsin’s 2016 recount, which was conducted statewide and requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, barely moved the needle in any candidate’s totals, giving Trump an additional 131 votes.
More broadly, there is no precedent for a recount to change the outcome of an election in which the margin between the top two candidates is as large as Biden has over Trump.
There have been at least 31 counts in state elections in the United States since the most famous in the Florida presidential election in 2000. The counts changed the outcome of three races. All three were decided by hundreds of votes, not thousands.
Of those 31 counts, the largest change in the margin between the top two candidates was 0.1 percentage point, which occurred in the 2006 race for the Vermont auditor. The average change in margin between the top two candidates, whether the margin increases or decreases, was 0.019 percentage points.
Biden leads Trump by about 0.6 percentage points.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT ENDS?
Once the recount is complete, the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission is charged with certifying the results by December 1. But a lot can happen before then, including expected legal challenges.
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Trump’s legal challenges in other states have been unsuccessful, but Republican supporters in Wisconsin are hopeful that he will fare better before the conservative-controlled state Supreme Court.