Milwaukee County Finds 65 Missing Ballots in Voting Machine

November 26, 2020 Updated: November 26, 2020

After adding up totals in their recount, election officials from Milwaukee County in Wisconsin realized they were 65 ballots short—later unearthing them in a voting machine.

It is the second time election officials have found a batch of uncounted ballots in the county as part of the state’s partial recount.

The results of the recount are now expected to be announced on Friday after Thanksgiving break.

Recounts are taking place in Milwaukee and Dane counties at the request of the Trump campaign, which alleges irregularities in the Nov. 3 election in Wisconsin, including “illegally altered absentee ballots.”

The deadline for the recount is Dec. 1.

Milwaukee County election workers had almost completed the recount of the 460,000 ballots on Nov. 25 when they found they were 65 votes short of the numbers counted on election night, with only 23 out of an expected 88 ballots for one ward.

Election Recount
An election official calms unruly observers as procedural issues are argued during the process of recounting ballots, at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wis., on Nov. 20, 2020. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“We searched our reconstructive ballots, our blank ballots and we could not find them there,” said Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, according to Fox6. “We went back to our warehouse and located them in the voting machine where it appears that the chief left them. We have not yet counted those ballots to ensure that they are all accounted for, but we did locate ballots in the voting machine.”

The 65 votes will be included in the count, reported TMJ4.

Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said he had no concerns about chain-of-custody issues for the ballots, which he said were cast in person and counted on Election Day.

“Those are still at the City of Milwaukee Election Commission warehouse,” said Christenson, reported TMJ4. “They were, according to her, still in one of the machines and that does happen and again that’s the value of a recount. No concerns about custody as far as I’m concerned,” said Christenson.

Election officials found a batch of 386 uncounted ballots the previous day. Milwaukee’s elections board voted 3-0 to count the ballots, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Woodall-Vogg took the ballots to be opened and counted.

“It was a human error on Election Day. I reviewed the paperwork, and it was new election inspectors who worked one shift on Election Day, so I know they left in the middle of the day,” she told reporters at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

“But the way that we discovered the error, all of the unopened ballots were on the bottom, with all of the open certificate envelopes on top. And knowing how thorough we are at central count, I have no doubt that they brought these ballots up to the table, saying that they were complete, not indicating to anyone that half of the ward was missing.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden finished with 20,427 more votes than Trump, or 0.62 percent of the vote, according to unofficial statewide results. State law allows a candidate who ends up within 1 percent of the winner’s total to request a recount.

A hand audit in Georgia uncovered four batches of ballots. About 1,400 more of those ballots were for Trump, compared to Biden.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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