Wisconsin Recount: Officials look forward to demonstrating ‘strengths’ of state’s elections systems

Wisconsin Recount: Officials look forward to demonstrating ‘strengths’ of state’s elections systems

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Wisconsin election officials reaffirmed their confidence in the state’s election process and say Milwaukee and Dane counties are prepared to begin their recounts.

“I think I speak for our election administrators when I say that we look forward to again demonstrating the strengths, security, integrity and transparency of our elections systems in Wisconsin,” Meagan Wolfe, the Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator, told reporters Thursday. “We did so through the municipal board of canvass, where we saw little if any changes. We did so through the county board of canvass, where we didn’t see any significant changes. And we will do so during the recount.”

President-elect Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by 20,608 votes in Wisconsin.

The partial recount was requested by President Trump’s campaign – which targeted the state’s two liberal strongholds, Milwaukee and Dane counties.

“We cannot allow these crooks, because that’s who they are, to steal an election from the American people.” Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, said in a news conference in Washington D.C.

The petition for a partial recount signals it is part of a larger strategy to cast doubt over some of the ballots cast in Wisconsin, which could lead to litigation in December after the recount is completed.

“We have to first create a contest in Wisconsin before we can move to bringing a fulsome, federal lawsuit,” Giuliani said. “The contest, from everything I can see, is going to overturn the vote.”

The Trump campaign is focusing on multiple angles for its challenges in Wisconsin: the treatment or allowance of election observers on Election Day, voters who declared themselves indefinitely confined, witness addresses and absentee ballot applications.

However, most of those concerns have been addressed before.

The Elections Commission determined voters could declare themselves ‘indefinitely confined’ because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The option means an absentee voter doesn’t have to provide a photo ID to get a ballot – but they could have done so in the past for a previous absentee ballot or in-person vote. It’s not clear how the Trump legal team would determine if the indefinitely confined option was fraudulent for the more than 200,000 voters who used the option statewide.

The concern about witness addresses is likely tied to observers not fully understanding the state’s election policies. Voters must provide their own signature and a witness signature on the envelope that carries their absentee ballot and they must include their address. However, guidance from 2016 that was used in every election since the 2016 presidential election allows clerks or poll workers to fill out the address information if it is missing and they can correctly tie it to the pertaining voter.

The concern over absentee applications refers to how voters can’t receive an absentee ballot without a request. However, early, in-person voting is technically absentee voting and therefore a voter using that option would not have made a formal request for an absentee ballot.

Democrats say Trump’s allegations are weak and have clear motives of casting doubt over the state’s liberal counties where the majority of minorities live and vote.

“The irregularities that [Trump’s] alleging should be across the state but he’s focusing on the two counties where there just happens to be the most black and brown-skinned folks,” Congressman Mark Pocan (D – Madison) said Thursday. Pocan believes the Trump campaign will ultimately be unsuccessful in its challenges.

“Too many people in the Republican Party and in the administration are still catering to him so that he doesn’t break every toy in his crib,” Pocan said. “So I don’t think he’ll get especially far with it.”

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