Wisconsin Elections Commission orders presidential recount in Dane, Milwaukee counties

The Wisconsin Elections Commission want to remain transparent with voters, encouraging them to...
The Wisconsin Elections Commission want to remain transparent with voters, encouraging them to watch ballots be counted on Election Day(WMTV Michelle Baik)
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 11:24 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 4:45 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - UPDATE 11/19:

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has ordered a partial recount of the presidential election after voting to approve the order late Wednesday.

Donald Trump’s campaign filed for a recount Wednesday and payed the $3 million to cover the cost.

The recount will happen in Dane and Milwaukee Counties only. Democrat Joe Biden easily won the counties that historically go blue. The Trump campaign claims there were “irregularities” with absentee ballots and the state’s Voter ID law.

Biden leads Trump in Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. That’s within the margin for requesting a recount.

Wisconsin Elections Commission update, Nov. 19

#FirstAlert: The Wisconsin Elections Commission is giving us an update on the recount process in Dane and Milwaukee Counties.

Posted by WBAY TV-2 on Thursday, November 19, 2020

The recount order requires the board of canvassers from each county to convene by 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21. They must finish the recount by noon on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The board of canvassers can start counting Thursday.

The Dane County Board of Canvassers will convene at Monona Terrace in Madison. Milwaukee County will meet at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

The boards will issue public notices for meeting times. They must include a 24-hour public notice.

The six-member Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously approved changes to its Recount Manual to make sure both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign have access to ballots.

“It is clear that the ballots and materials must be available for candidates and their representatives to view and offer any objections to a ballot being counted,” reads the revised manual.

The WEC also approved guidance for the 190 municipalities that will conduct voting equipment audits before Dec. 1. CLICK HERE for more information on the auditing process.

“We understand the eyes of the world will be on these Wisconsin counties over the next few weeks,” said Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the WEC and Wisconsin’s chief election official. “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.”

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani discussed the Wisconsin recount during a news conference Thursday morning. He claimed that Republicans were “shut out” of the absentee process and not allowed to inspect ballots. He also alleged that thousands of people received absentee ballots without requesting them.

“There are 60,000 ballots in Milwaukee county and 40,000 ballots in Madison that, as far as we can tell, and this is why we’re auditing because we have very good information, the numbers are going to come out about here, that don’t have applications,” Giuliani said. “This all happened in two places in Wisconsin. It didn’t happen in northern Wisconsin. It didn’t happen in Republican Wisconsin. It didn’t happen in neutral Wisconsin where there are an equal number of Republican and Democrats. It happened in a place where the vote was 75-to-80 percent for the Democrat. You take away any number of those, and that 20,000 lead disappears.”


Wednesday, November 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.

Thursday, November 19, 2020 – 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.

Saturday, November 21, 2020 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).

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 – 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.


In order to determine how the 2020 partial recount in Wisconsin will happen, as well as the timetable, a special meeting of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) was held Wednesday night.

The partial recount will be done in Dane and Milwaukee Counties.

RELATED: President Trump files for recount in Milwaukee and Dane Counties

Much of the meeting’s discussion, which started at 6 p.m., centered on a recount manual that will direct the clerks overseeing the process.

The WEC unanimously voted in favor of an order to be issued Thursday that will start the recount requested by President Trump in Dane and Milwaukee counties.

Once the order is given, clerks will be on the clock starting Thursday, with 13 days to complete the process by December 1, and must begin by 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Commission was originally expected to issue the recount order Wednesday night.

The manual being discussed was last updated two years ago, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s some changes that are necessary to make sure everyone is safe during the recount.

Once the recount process starts, the clerks are also required to provide daily progress updates.

There was also a large discussion about what specifically will be looked at during the recount, including absentee ballots which were requested and then mailed in.

“They’re looking at the absentee ballot log, they’re looking at the poll book, to make a determination of the number of applications that have been made. They’re also reviewing each of the absentee ballot envelopes and if there were absentee ballots that were rejected, they will review those too, to see if they were properly rejected,” said Meagan Wolfe, the Administrator for the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

The discussion did become rather heated at times, especially when the idea of voter fraud was brought up.

“We don’t know that a whole bunch of extra ballots were sent out without any application and why wouldn’t we want to, if somebody is raising that question, why wouldn’t we want to go ahead and prove it,” said Robert Spindell, the Commissioner of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

“It’s not true. So, that’s the problem I’m having with this discussion is we are implying there are these thieves, these criminals in charge of elections in our two largest counties,” said Ann Jacobs, the Chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

As of 11:21 p.m., the meeting was still going, and a news briefing has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday to provide an update on the presidential recount. The briefing was originally scheduled for Wednesday night.

Action 2 News will continue to update this story as more details become available.

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