Wisconsin’s largest county begins certifying US election results

As canvassing gets under way, Wisconsin’s Republican Party has put out a call for volunteers to monitor the process.

A poll worker gestures while processing absentee ballots at the Milwaukee Central Count the night of Election Day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin [Bing Guan/Reuters]

Kenosha, Wisconsin, US – Wisconsin’s most populous county has begun certifying the results of the United States elections, a day after President Donald Trump’s campaign signalled its intention of asking for a recount in the key battleground state.

The canvassing process began a little after 9am (15:00 GMT) in Milwaukee County, where 460,000 ballots were cast on Tuesday.

The votes overwhelmingly favoured the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, which garnered 69.13 percent support, compared with 29.29 percent for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The county, which has duplicate copies of municipal results, is conducting its canvassing concurrently with its municipalities.

Milwaukee County’s election director, Julietta Henry, said that procedure has been in place since she joined with the county in 2014. “We always start our canvas two days after the election at 9:00 am,” she told Al Jazeera.

Republicans call for volunteers

As canvassing gets under way, Wisconsin’s Republican Party has put out a call for volunteers to monitor the process.

Tweets shared by the Milwaukee County GOP falsely call the planned, legal process of adding an unprecedented number of absentee ballots from separate central count locations to the totals from polling places a “4am dump” and “fraud”.

That echoes equally baseless claims made by the president.

Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said in a statement on Wednesday that “reports of irregularities in several counties Wisconsin countries … raise serious doubts about the validity of the results.”

Wisconsin state law allows a second-place finisher to request a recount once the results are certified if the margin of victory is less than one percentage point [Erik S Lesser/EPA]

Stepien said the Trump campaign “is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so”.

Wisconsin state law allows a second-place finisher to request a recount once officials certify the election results and if the margin of victory is one percentage point or less.

But Henry said Tuesday’s election “was no different than any other election”.

“Just because someone may look at the results and think, ‘Oh this person must have won’, the election is not done until every ballot is counted,” she said. “I don’t think we can get any clearer with the process.”

David Canon, chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s political science department, said allegations of fraud are a “complete fabrication”. He said he expects little, if anything, to come from the Trump campaign’s attempts at litigation across the country.

'The election is not done until every ballot is counted.

by Julietta Henry, Milwaukee County election director

Along with its plans to request a recount in Wisconsin, the Trump campaigned has also filed lawsuits to stop vote counting in several other battleground states where the results are close, including Pennsylvania.

“You can see the hypocrisy of his comments when he wants to count every vote in states where he’s behind like Arizona and Nevada… but in states where he’s ahead, he wants to stop the counting,” Canon said.

“It’s not illegal to lose a close election,” he added. “Just because you don’t like the outcome, you can’t sue [to] change the outcome. There has to be some legal basis for the claims and there is just no legal basis for these challenges right now.”

Certifying the results

Meanwhile, across Wisconsin, provisional ballots are still allowed to come in at the municipal level through Friday.

Should any changes to the count occur as a result, the municipalities will include them in the certified results that they are required to provide to the counties and the county canvass will be adjusted accordingly.

While challenges to provisional ballots can technically still be made, Canon said they typically do not hold much weight. “People often don’t come back to provide the additional information” that a provisional ballot’s acceptance hinges on, he said.

The Trump campaign’s preliminarily demand for a recount came before one can legally be filed in the state, but Canon said he did not expect much to change should a recount be conducted.

“There are always some problematic ballots that come up,” he said, but the results of discovered errors tend to go both ways and “basically cancel each other out”.

The original results of the 2016 US elections gave Trump 47.19 percent of the vote in Wisconsin compared with Clinton’s 46.44 percent. After a state recount, Trump ended up with 47.22 percent of the vote with Clinton receiving 46.45 percent.

Source: Al Jazeera