Madison, Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Elections Commission voted late Wednesday, after hours of and often controversial debate, to issue an order on Thursday to recount ballots cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties, as requested by President Trump. His campaign paid the $ 3 million required for the recount, and placing the order was supposed to be a pro forma move, but it resulted in nearly six hours of contention.
The partisan fighting before the recount even began probably foreshadowed the battle ahead.
“It’s just remarkable that the six of us civilized disagree with this stuff,” Democratic Commissioner Mark Thomsen said for hours in the debate.
Adam Brewster of newsdos said a key takeaway from the bitter meeting was that this could be an ugly recount battle with battles that end in court. There have been several times when commissioners have suggested that issues they were discussing could ultimately be decided in court.
The commission, split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, argued over changes to their handbook, which provides guidance to locals Election officials on the conduct of recounts. Ultimately, they decided not to reference the guide in order, but they updated some parts to reflect the precautions for the coronavirus pandemic.
The commissioners got stuck making changes to the handbook, which Democrats and Electoral Commission officials said they would bring the guidelines into line with applicable state law. Republicans flinched, saying the guidelines shouldn’t be changed after Mr Trump requested the recount.
Their inability to come to an agreement leaves guidelines stating that postal voting requests must be approved as part of the recount, despite Commission staff saying it is not required by law.
Democratic commissioners said they were sure the recount, which counties must complete by December 1, will be brought to justice, despite Mr Trump’s claims being unfounded. Democrat Joe Biden carried Wisconsin by 20,608 votes, winning counties of Dane and Milwaukee by more than a 2 to 1 lead.
Democratic chief executive Ann Jacobs said Mr. Trump’s claim that election officials sent thousands of postal ballot papers to voters who had not requested them was “absurd,” “factually bizarre,” and a “vague, paranoid conspiracy”.
“What we shouldn’t be doing is watering this nonsense plant,” she said.
“I would be happy if this commission actually works,” said Jacobs during one of the language battles in the recount manual, newsdos’ s Brewster said.
Republican Commissioners Dean Knudson and Bob Spindell asked if election observers were being treated fairly by Democratic district clerks in Milwaukee and Madison. At one point, Knudson even appeared to be questioning whether postal ballot papers requested through the election commission’s state website were invalid because of the way the requests were recorded.
“I hope we haven’t put a system in place at the WEC that lures people into asking for a ballot that isn’t actually in line with the law,” he said.
Democrats dismissed Knudson’s concerns as outlandish, noting that the system has been unchallenged for years.
Thomsen said Mr Trump only questioned the validity of the election because he lost, but he had no problem with Wisconsin’s electoral rules in 2016 when he won by less than 23,000 votes.
The fight in Wisconsin was reminiscent of what happened in Michigan on Tuesday. Republicans on a billboard for the county, which includes Detroit, temporarily suspended voting certification after alleging that the election books were out of whack in certain parts of the black-majority city. The blockade brought accusations of racism from Democrats before the board later unanimously voted to confirm the results.