Trump Campaign Calls for Partial Recount in Wisconsin, Claims Ballots Illegally Altered

November 18, 2020 Updated: November 19, 2020

The Trump campaign filed a petition on Nov. 18 for a partial recount in Wisconsin of several counties, and has spent $3 million to cover the estimated cost.

A full recount of the state would cost around $8 million, Wisconsin election officials have previously said.

The recount request is for Milwaukee and Dane counties, the campaign said, noting there were alleged “illegally altered absentee ballots, illegally issued absentee ballots, and illegal advice given by government officials allowing Wisconsin’s Voter ID laws to be circumvented,” according to a statement.

The campaign further accused the Wisconsin Elections Commission of directing municipal clerks to illegally alter absentee ballots, which is illegal under state law. Clerks were told to use their own “personal knowledge” as well as “lists or databases at his or her disposal” to add missing information that is required by law on absentee ballots, the campaign stated.

The commission’s public information officer, Reid Magney, told The Epoch Times that the guidance requiring clerks to correct addresses was issued several years ago.

“The guidance has been in effect for 11 statewide elections, including the 2016 presidential and presidential recount, and no one has objected to it until now,” he said. “The law says that a witness address needs to be present for the certificate to be accepted and the ballot to be counted, it does not specify who affixes the address.”

But the campaign stated that clerks across the state also sent “absentee ballots to voters without requiring an application,” which is in “direct conflict with Wisconsin’s absentee voting safeguards,” as state law stipulates that absentee ballots shouldn’t be issued without written consent via an application.

In June, the Wisconsin Elections Commission gave its final approval to mailing out absentee ballot application forms, but the order didn’t stipulate sending out ballots themselves to voters.

“Wisconsin law expressly requires that absentee ballots may not be issued without receiving a written application requesting the ballot,” the Trump campaign stated. “Despite this clear mandatory requirement, clerks uniformly issued absentee ballots without collecting a written application from persons who requested absentee ballots in person during the two week in-person absentee voting period that ran from October 20, 2020, through November 1, 2020.”

The Trump team also claimed that Democratic county clerks in some areas “illegally advised voters to illegally mischaracterize that they were indefinitely confined to circumvent Wisconsin voter ID law.” It noted that there were more than 72,000 who were described as “indefinitely confined” in 2019, but there were more than 240,000 during the time of the 2020 elections.

“We will not stop fighting for transparency and integrity in our electoral process to ensure that all Americans can trust the results of a free and fair election in Wisconsin and across the country,” Jim Troupis, counsel to the campaign, said in a statement.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment about the Trump campaign’s claims.

The commission announced later on Wednesday that it received a partial recount petition and a wire transfer from the Trump campaign for $3 million.

Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief election official, said in the announcement that the request to recount “appears, upon facial review, to meet all of the requirements in pairing with the payment that was received late yesterday.”

“We understand the eyes of the world will be on these Wisconsin counties over the next few weeks,” she also said. “We remain committed to providing information about the process and assisting our county clerks by providing facts on the mechanics of a recount and status updates.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) lists the timeline for the recount as follows:

  • Nov. 18, 6:00 p.m. – The Wisconsin Elections Commission holds a special meeting to discuss details of the partial recount for president and to review supplements to the Recount Manual in light of public health guidance. Information about the meeting and how to attend online is available here: https://elections.wi.gov/node/7247
  • Nov. 19 – The Commission Chair issues the Recount Order. This starts the 13-day recount clock and is also the first day that recount boards can meet.
  • Nov. 21 at 9:00 a.m. – The deadline by which county boards of canvassers must convene for the recount (no later than 9:00 a.m. on the third day after the recount order is issued).
  • Dec. 1 – The deadline to complete the recount. This is also the deadline, under Wisconsin law, for WEC to certify results from the General Election. Therefore, recounts must be completed and results must be filed with WEC by noon on December 1, 2020.

Ivan Pentchoukov and Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.