The Wisconsin Elections Commission has officially ordered a partial recount of votes in the presidential race after receiving a $3 million payment from the Trump campaign, according to a release from the election commission.
The commission’s order requires the boards of canvassers in Dane and Milwaukee counties to convene by 9 a.m. CT on Saturday, and to complete the recount by Tuesday, Dec. 1.
President Trump’s campaign filed a petition Wednesday asking for the two county-level recounts. These two counties are Democratic strongholds, home to many Black and college-age voters in Milwaukee and Madison.
CNN projected that President-elect Joe Biden won the state of Wisconsin. He is currently ahead of Trump by more than 20,000 votes, which even some prominent Republicans acknowledge is likely an insurmountable lead.
In a meeting on Zoom, the six-member elections commission, which is divided between three Democrats and three Republicans, previewed some of the arguments that could be aired during the recount over the next two weeks.
Republican members of the commission accused Democratic officials in the two counties of trying to use coronavirus safety guidelines as an excuse to make it harder for Trump’s campaign to observe recount proceedings.
“Safety cannot mean that they can’t have observers, that they can’t have them close,” Republican Dean Knudson said. “The right to view what’s going on is more important than any kind of local safety command that they’ve come up with.”
The commission did unanimously approve public safety guidelines suggesting counties use measures like acrylic glass barriers and social distancing during the recount.
Democratic members pushed for the commission to update the state’s recount manual to not require recount canvassing boards to review absentee ballot requests if there was no discrepancy in the number of absentee ballots. The commission’s nonpartisan staff said that that change would more accurately reflect state statutes. But the Republican members opposed the change, leading to a deadlock.
Democratic commission member Mark Thomsen blasted the Trump campaign’s recount petition for singling out Milwaukee and Dane counties, noting that the petition alleged statewide irregularities without evidence but only requested a recount in two counties.
“I have never felt so attacked, to say that it’s all unfair and then just pick out our county,” he said.