Election 2020

Trump Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is, Ponies Up Millions for Wisconsin Recount

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s campaign paid Wisconsin $3 million and filed a petition for a recount in two counties that heavily favored Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The petition alleges “mistakes and fraud” in the tabulation of votes that put Biden 20,608 votes head of the president.

“We will not stop fighting for transparency and integrity in our electoral process to ensure that all Americans can trust the results of a free and fair election in Wisconsin and across the country,” former Dane County Circuit Judge Jim Troupis, who is representing the campaign in the recount effort, said in a statement Wednesday.

Trump is seeking a recount of ballots in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. The president would have to pay nearly $8 million to conduct a full statewide recount, but state laws allow a more targeted approach.

A Milwaukee County recount is estimated to cost about $2 million. Biden received 317,270 votes there, far ahead of Trump’s 134,357 votes, according to the final canvas. A county canvass added 19 votes for Biden and 2 for Trump compared to the unofficial results.

A recount in Dane County would cost about $740,000. Biden received 260,185 votes to Trump’s 78,800 in Dane County.

Together, the two counties account for more than a third (35 percent) of the Democrats’ statewide vote.

Previous statewide recounts have only shifted over 100 votes at most, but the recount gives Trump the opportunity to pursue legal challenges to contest large numbers of ballots. In the recount request, the campaign asked to throw out absentee ballots in cases where clerks filled in the addresses of witnesses, a practice that clerks have engaged in for four years. The campaign also asked to toss ballots from voters who called themselves indefinitely confined but who do not meet that condition. Voters in that condition do not have to provide a copy of an ID to get an absentee ballot.

Even in the unlikely event that Trump prevails in a recount in Wisconsin, he would need to flip at least two other swing states in order to defeat Biden. Georgia is already undergoing a state-ordered recount while the Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Michigan.

The president’s challenges are unlikely to succeed, but he is putting his money where his mouth is.

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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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