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Wisconsin Recount Complete: Biden Gains 87 Net Votes As Milwaukee, Dane Counties Conclude Recount

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Ballots from the November 3 election are stored in a guarded room in the Wisconsin Center before the start of a recount scheduled to begin tomorrow on November 19, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The recount of votes cast during the presidential election concluded in Milwaukee County Friday evening and in Dane County Sunday morning. The final tally shows, once again, that President-elect Joe Biden handily won the primarily Democratic counties over incumbent President Donald Trump. The Biden-Harris ticket picked up a net total of 87 votes.

The breakdown in Dane County showed Democrat Biden losing 91 votes, bringing his total to 260,094. Republican Trump was down 46 votes in the county, bringing his total to 78,754. The net effect was a loss of 45 votes for Biden.

In Milwaukee County, Biden gained 257 votes, bringing his total to 317,527. Trump gained 125 votes, bringing his total to 134,482. In Milwaukee, Biden had a net gain of 132 votes.

Biden won the state of Wisconsin by nearly 20,600 votes, and his margin in Milwaukee and Dane counties was about 2-to-1.

During press conferences soon after their counts were completed, both Milwaukee County clerk George Christenson and Dane County clerk Scott McDonnell thanked everyone who helped throughout the process.

“I promised that this would be a transparent and fair process and it was,” Christenson said. "There was an examination of every ballot by election workers, a meticulous recounting of every ballot that was properly cast. A transparent process that allowed the public to observe a fair process that allows either the aggrieved candidate who sought the recount an opportunity to observe and object to ballots that they believe should not be counted.”

McDonnell expressed similar sentiments, saying “this incredible level of transparency should provide reassurance to the public that the election was run properly and accurately, and there was no fraud.”

McDonnell said that, in general, the ballots that were tossed out were missing a voter signature or witness signature or address. He said some ballots were found to have been improperly excluded, as well.

The vice chair of Milwaukee’s election commission and the only Republican commissioner, Rick Baas, thanked his fellow commissioners for the work they did together, despite party differences.

He said they conducted themselves in a way that wasn’t seen elsewhere across the country. "We did not have yelling, screaming, shouting." Bass said, "We had counsel that could make an articulate argument; we've done the best we can do given the circumstances that we were under.” Baas said, “We can differ, but we will be civilized."

Meanwhile, Trump's campaign appears to be preparing a court challenge to change the election's outcome, but his window to sue is narrow. The deadline to certify the vote is Tuesday. Certification is done by the Democratic chair of the Wisconsin Election Commission, which is bipartisan.

The Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a conservative group, has already filed a lawsuit against election officials, seeking to block certification of the results. It echoes many of the claims Trump is expected to make.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' attorneys filed a response to the lawsuit on Friday, calling it a “brazen attack on democracy itself” and asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss it.

Evers, a Democrat, said the group’s lawsuit is a “mishmash of legal distortions” that uses factual misrepresentations in an attempt to take voting rights away from millions of Wisconsin residents. He argues that failing to certify the election results would overturn other election results across the state, throwing the government into chaos.

Trump’s attorneys have targeted absentee ballots where voters identified themselves as “indefinitely confined," allowing them to cast an absentee ballot without showing a photo ID; ballots that have a certification envelope with two different ink colors, indicating a poll worker may have helped complete it; and absentee ballots that don't have a separate written record for its request, such as in-person absentee ballots.

Election officials have counted those ballots during the recount, but marked them as exhibits at the request of the Trump campaign.

Dane County clerk McDonnell, a Democrat, says he’s not too worried about courts siding with the Trump campaign. “You know, maybe I'm naive,” he says, “but I actually trust our court systems to handle this correctly. And I, that's not something that I think about when I'm in the shower.”

Legal experts have said that they also do not expect the court to throw out validly cast ballots even if the state elections commission improperly interpreted a statute or set guidance inaccurately.

Trump’s campaign has already failed elsewhere in court without proof of widespread fraud, which experts widely agree doesn’t exist. Trump legal challenges have failed in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

On Monday, the federal government recognized Biden as the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election over Trump. Even though Trump kept up his attacks on the election, he said he is assisting Biden with the transition.

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