MADESON, Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Electoral Commission late Wednesday, after hours of controversial debate, agreed to issue an order Thursday to count ballots cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties, as requested by President Donald Trump.
Trump paid the $ 3 million needed to count and issue the order was expected to be a pro forma move, but instead led to nearly six hours of controversy. The guerrilla battle before the census had even begun, probably foreshadowing the battle ahead.
“It’s just remarkable that the six of us can’t agree with these things in a civilized way,”
The commission, divided equally between Republicans and Democrats, is debating changes to its handbook, which provides guidelines for local elections on how to conduct censuses. Eventually, they decided not to refer to the management in the order, but updated some parts to reflect the devices for the coronavirus pandemic.
The commissioners are at a dead end in making changes to the leadership, which Democrats and the election commission say will bring the guidelines in line with current state law. Republicans opposed it, saying the guidelines should not change after Trump filed a census.
Their inability to reach an agreement leaves in place guidelines that applications for absentee voting must be approved as part of the census, although commission officials say this is not required by law.
Democratic commissioners have said they are confident the counts, which counties must complete by Dec. 1, are aimed at the court, although Trump’s allegations are unfounded. Democrat Joe Biden won Wisconsin with 20,608 votes and won Dane and Milwaukee counties by more than 2 to 1.
Democrat Chairman Anne Jacobs said Trump’s claim that election officials sent thousands of absent ballots to voters who did not request them was “absurd,” “actually strange,” and “a vague, paranoid conspiracy.”
“What we shouldn’t do is water this plant with a balloon,” she said.
Republican Commissioners Dean Nadson and Bob Spindle have questioned whether election observers will be treated fairly by Democratic District officials in Milwaukee and Madison. At one point, Nadson even doubted that the missing ballots requested through the state election commission’s website were invalid because of the way the requests were recorded.
“I hope we have not created a system in the WEC that entices people to ask for a vote that is not actually in line with the law,” he said.
Democrats dismissed Knudson’s worries as strange, noting that the system has not been challenged for years.
Thomsen said Trump is challenging the validity of the election only because he lost, but there is no problem with Wisconsin’s election rules in 2016, when he won with less than 23,000 votes.
The Battle of Wisconsin resonated with what happened in Michigan on Tuesday. Republicans on the campaign board for the county, which includes Detroit, suspended the vote after saying polls in some parts of the majority black city were out of balance. The stalemate led to claims of racism by Democrats before the council later voted unanimously to validate the results.