Wisconsin Election Officials Address Milwaukee County Red Pen Controversy Raised By Trump's Campaign

Nov 6, 2020

A Wisconsin election official is addressing the red pen controversy raised by President Donald Trump's reelection campaign.

Trump may ask for a recount of Tuesday's result in Wisconsin that shows him trailing Democrat Joe Biden by about 20,000 votes.

>>Trump Wants A Recount In Wisconsin. How Would It Work?

NPR and other outlets are reporting that Trump's team claims 15-20% of absentee ballots in Milwaukee County were "cured" or adjusted in red pen by poll workers, and that Trump legal volunteers observing the absentee processing were prevented from having “meaningful access all of the time."

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg, who helped oversee a central count for Milwaukee and seven suburbs, did not respond to our requests for comment.

On Thursday, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe told reporters that she wasn't in Milwaukee Tuesday. But Wolfe speculated on some scenarios:

  • The absentee voter had brought in his or her original ballot witness to update the witness' information.
  • The poll worker was adding a missing address of one witness if it was supplied to another ballot from the same household.
  • It was to update an absentee ballot obtained during early in-person voting and the election clerk at the time hadn't signed as a witness.

Commission Spokesperson Reid Magney quickly followed up on Wolfe's remarks: "Just the other thing to add is they're not curing the ballot itself with the person's votes on it. It's the certificate envelope that gets cured," Magney said.

Wolfe also addressed the allegation of Trump polling place observers not being able to closely see what was going on all the time. Wolfe says due to COVID-19, there was an emphasis on keeping people safe.

"You know, it might have meant they couldn't cram 20 observers into an area like they could before, and they could only sit, you know, four. So, each polling place had to make those determinations on how to make everyone safe in accordance with law," Wolfe said.

Wolfe also says due to COVID-19, observer tables were at least 6 feet from the poll book or registration table instead of as close as 3 feet.

We won't know for a few weeks if the Trump campaign will actually file the Wisconsin recount request.