Poll worker Rebecca Brandt, center, feeds a voting tabulation machine with absentee ballots in the gym at Sun Prairie High School on Nov. 3 in Sun Prairie. The entire gym was dedicated to counting the absentee ballots. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)
Poll worker Rebecca Brandt, center, feeds a voting tabulation machine with absentee ballots in the gym at Sun Prairie High School on Nov. 3 in Sun Prairie. The entire gym was dedicated to counting the absentee ballots. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

“Meticulous” election process doesn’t allow for rigging of votes, says state election official. 

Following through on pre-Election Day threats to challenge the results of the presidential election, President Donald Trump is requesting a recount of Wisconsin ballots, citing “irregularities in several Wisconsin counties,” a claim the governor dismissed as “irresponsible talk.”

On Wednesday Trump once again decried the counting of absentee ballots and threatened to take the matter to the US Supreme Court. After former Vice President Joe Biden was named the winner of the state, Trump demanded a recount

Results show Trump lost the state by 20,510 votes. According to state law, a candidate can request a recount if the margin between the two candidates is within 1 percentage point. 

“So do it,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “Get that recount done so we can move on with our lives.”

The Trump campaign said in a statement it would be requesting the recount for several reasons, including the use of “ridiculous public polling used as a voter suppression tactic.”

“Wisconsin has been a razor thin race as we always knew that it would be,” said the statement. “There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results.”

Evers fired back, calling the election officials, clerks, volunteers, and Wisconsin National Guard members who ran the statewide elections “goddamn heroes.”

“That is beyond irresponsible talk. But frankly, not unexpected talk, considering the source,” Evers told reporters Wednesday. 

Despite a challenging election that included a record number of absentee ballots, coronavirus concerns and high turnout, the counting of ballots went smoothly and the results of political races decided on Tuesday are valid, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said Wednesday. 

“I am 100% certain this election was done in accordance with the law,” Wolfe said during a briefing with reporters.

Wolfe declined to respond directly to Trump’s claim of possible miscounting of votes. Instead, she defended the process, saying workers at polling places are exacting and follow a strict set of actions to ensure the integrity of the electoral system. 

“Elections are such a deliberate, meticulous process,” Wolfe said. “It’s insulting to our local elections officials to say yesterday’s election was anything but a success.”

That process occurs in full view of other election workers and the public, she said, and doesn’t offer opportunities to change vote totals. 

Boxes with absentee ballots wait to be tabulated in the gym at Sun Prairie High School on Election Day. The entire gym was dedicated to counting the absentee ballots. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

“We had a smooth election under extremely difficult circumstances,” Evers said. “For the campaign to say those things is just more of the same BS, frankly. I’m real tired of it.”

Tuesday’s election vote totals reported so far are based on polling place reports to Wisconsin’s 72 counties, which are then reported by news outlets, Wolfe said. Election workers in the state’s 1,850 municipalities today are recounting a randomly selected portion of those votes today in a process known as canvassing. 

Those votes are then recounted by county election officials, she said, before being forwarded to the state, where they are counted yet again and then certified, a process that has a Dec. 1 deadline. 

Election clerks across Wisconsin acknowledged the record number of absentee ballots created more work and time delays, as counting those ballots requires additional steps. To ensure election integrity and speed up counting, clerks in some locations added workers to tally absentee ballots.

“We worked really hard to make sure the election process went exactly like it was supposed to,” Eau Claire City Clerk Carrie Riepl said, noting vote counting went relatively smoothly.

Wolfe said she heard similar reports from around the state. She praised election workers, saying she is “incredibly proud” of their effort Tuesday.

Most locations in the state reported election results, including absentee ballots, by late Tuesday. The counting of absentee ballots took longer in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Kenosha, which released their vote totals Wednesday morning.

The mostly Democratic absentee ballots in Milwaukee, which totaled about 170,000, gave Biden the lead, and returns from Kenosha and Green Bay added to the margin. 

As of early Wednesday afternoon, Wolfe said the only Wisconsin votes not counted were a small number in the Richland County town of Willow, and provisional ballots, those in which people were allowed to vote but must provide a valid ID by Friday for their votes to count. 

Jessica VanEgeren contributed to this report.