State’s top election official takes on conspiracies and disinformation two days after Election Day.
More than a day after President Donald Trump’s campaign team lied that there were “irregularities” in Wisconsin’s voting process, there is still no evidence to support the assertion that Wisconsin’s election was in any way compromised, according to Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Wolfe in a Thursday call with reporters addressed a growing list of baseless conspiracy theories about the election in the Badger State as Trump, his surrogates, and supporters continued to spread disinformation online as they sought to finish vote-counting in Arizona, where Trump was gaining ground on Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and shut down counting operations in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Biden was staging a possible comeback after initial results showed him behind.
“No, we have not received any report of any irregularities,” Wolfe said.
Trump’s campaign has vowed to request a recount in Wisconsin—which he lost by fewer than 21,000 votes—and falsely claimed in a press release there were “irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results.”
Trump allies and conservatives have also falsely claimed Wisconsin “found” ballots early Wednesday morning, when in fact they were simply legally cast mailed ballots in cities like Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Green Bay that were not finished being counted until the early hours because state law prohibits clerks from counting absentee ballots before polls open on Election Day.
Further yet, conspiracies claim Wisconsin had more votes cast than there are registered voters, a patently false assertion easily debunked with publicly accessible data. There were 3,296,374 votes cast; Wisconsin has 3,684,726 registered voters and also allows registration on Election Day. The overall turnout was 72.6% of all eligible voters.
“Wisconsin does not have more votes than registered voters,” an exasperated Wolfe said. “There were no absentee ballots found in the middle of the night. There were lawyers and observers from both parties on-site and involved the entire time; that even includes at 4 a.m. when ballots were still being counted and those unofficial totals were being posted. Clerks followed the law.”
Trump’s team has not yet requested a recount, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t. Recounts can’t be filed until counties complete their post-election canvassing, which under state law must be completed by two weeks after general elections at the latest. After the final county completes its canvassing, Trump will have a day to file a recount request.
Because Biden’s margin of victory is greater than 0.25%, Trump’s campaign would also have to pay for a recount if it in fact requests one. The payment must be made before the recount starts.
Wolfe did not immediately have an estimate for how much a recount would cost Trump. Green Party candidate Jill Stein coughed up $3.5 million for a recount in 2016, which only ended up giving Trump an extra 131 votes to his margin of victory. Wolfe said a recount this year would most likely be more expensive due to the increased cost of administering an election during the coronavirus pandemic.