Trump wins in emergency recount meeting

MADISON, Wis. — The Wis­con­sin Elec­tions Com­mis­sion has agreed to issue an order to recount bal­lots in two heav­i­ly lib­er­al coun­ties at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s request, but only after hours of con­tentious debate that may fore­shad­ow the par­ti­san bat­tle ahead.

Trump paid the $3 mil­lion required for the recount and issu­ing the order was expect­ed to be a pro for­ma move, but it took six hours for the com­mis­sion — split 3–3 along par­ty lines — to agree on the order late Wednesday.

“It’s just remark­able the six of us in a civ­i­lized fash­ion can’t agree to this stuff,” Demo­c­ra­t­ic com­mis­sion­er Mark Thom­sen said hours into the debate.

The recounts in Mil­wau­kee and Dane coun­ties, where Joe Biden out­polled Trump by a more than 2‑to‑1 mar­gin, will begin Fri­day and must be done by Dec. 1. Biden won statewide by 20,608 votes. Trump’s cam­paign has cit­ed “irreg­u­lar­i­ties” in the coun­ties, although no evi­dence of ille­gal activ­i­ty has been presented.

The com­mis­sion argued over changes to its man­u­al that pro­vides guid­ance to local elec­tions offi­cials over how to con­duct recounts. Ulti­mate­ly, they decid­ed not to ref­er­ence the man­u­al in the order, but they did update some parts to reflect accom­mo­da­tions for the coro­n­avirus pandemic.

The com­mis­sion­ers dead­locked on mak­ing changes to the man­u­al that Democ­rats and elec­tions com­mis­sion staff said would bring the guid­ance into line with cur­rent state law. Repub­li­cans balked, say­ing the guide­lines should not be changed after Trump filed for the recount.

Their inabil­i­ty to agree leaves in place guid­ance that says absen­tee bal­lot appli­ca­tions must be approved as part of the recount, even though com­mis­sion staff said that’s not required under the law.

 

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