A full-state recount would cost $7.9 million, so the campaign is focusing on the state’s two largest counties for a cheaper recount.
Outgoing President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign announced in a Wednesday morning press release it is requesting a recount of Dane and Milwaukee counties, Wisconsin’s two biggest Democratic strongholds, in a longshot bid to overturn the state’s election results.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission confirmed the Trump campaign had wired the state $3 million in a Wednesday morning tweet just minutes before Trump campaign’s announced the request. Even a statewide recount would need a miracle to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s margin of victory in Wisconsin of about 20,500 votes, so there is an infinitesimal chance a two-county recount will result in any significant change in the race.
A full-state recount would have cost $7.9 million, the Elections Commission estimated Monday. The Trump campaign’s failure to afford even half of that appears to serve as ongoing confirmation of its money woes.
Biden won Dane County by 181,385 votes out of 344,791 cast, according to the county’s official certified results. The president-elect won Milwaukee County by 182,913 votes out of 458,971 cast, according to the county’s official certified results. The two counties are the state’s most-populous, with about 1.5 million residents between them.
The Elections Commission has repeatedly stressed there have been no reports of significant irregularities or fraud in the election, but the Trump campaign falsely claimed there are Milwaukee and Dane counties were the source of “illegally altered absentee ballots” and “illegally issued absentee ballots.”
Those allegations are not supported by any evidence. The Elections Commission addressed the issue of “altered absentee ballots” in a post-election debunking of numerous conspiracy theories and instances of misinformation. Some poll workers legally “cured” ballots in concert with guidance from the Elections Commission, according to the commission.
Trump’s campaign claims clerks “across Wisconsin” issued absentee ballots to some voters who did not request them. There have been no reports of that occurring, and requests are legally required for ballots to be issued. The Elections Commission sent absentee ballot applications to 2.7 million registered voters in the state, but those were simply requests, not ballots.
The campaign also took issue with the roughly 240,000 Wisconsin voters who, in a deadly pandemic that has infected over 300,000 Wisconsinites and killed more than 2,700, classified themselves as “indefinitely confined”—a status that lets voters bypass the state’s voter ID requirement. There is nothing illegal about voters claiming the status.
“Designation of indefinitely confined status is for each individual voter to make based upon their current circumstance,” reads the Election Commission’s guidance on the indefinitely confined status. “It does not require permanent or total inability to travel outside of the residence.”
The campaign claimed Milwaukee and Dane county’s clerks “illegally advised voters” to say they were indefinitely confined. While the clerks did improperly encourage as much due to the pandemic, they did so in March—eight months before the election. The Elections Commission declined to investigate them for it, with even Bob Spindell, a hardline Republican commissioner, saying all the commission needed to do was warn the clerks against continuing to issue that guidance.
The recount deadline is Dec. 1, when the Elections Commission will formally certify the state’s results.