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Trump Campaign To File For Partial Recount In Wisconsin

Poll workers check voters' identifications on Election Day at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, Wis. The Trump campaign has announced it is filing for a recount in two Wisconsin counties.
Andy Manis
Getty Images
Poll workers check voters' identifications on Election Day at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, Wis. The Trump campaign has announced it is filing for a recount in two Wisconsin counties.

Updated at 12:13 p.m. ET

President Trump's campaign announced Wednesday morning it is filing a petition to formally ask election authorities to conduct a recount in two Wisconsin counties. President-elect Joe Biden won the state by a little more than 20,000 votes.

It's the latest move in a string of largely failed legal attempts on behalf of the Trump team to challenge the election results.

The recount request in Wisconsin shouldn't come as a surprise: The Trump campaign previewed the decision only a day after Election Day. The deadline for filing such a petition is 5 p.m. Wednesday.


In a statement Wednesday, the Trump campaign repeated unfounded claims of election fraud, citing "illegally altered absentee ballots, illegally issued absentee ballots, and illegal advice given by government officials allowing Wisconsin's Voter ID laws to be circumvented."

The campaign is asking for recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, which it alleges experienced the most election irregularities.

Biden's largest vote gain in the state came from Dane County, home to Madison and the University of Wisconsin, winning it by 35,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton did four years ago.

Although Wisconsin does not have automatic recounts, state law allows a losing candidate behind by 1% to file a sworn petition, along with a filing fee. The state will only pay for a recount if the margin of victory is .25% or less.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission confirmed in a tweet it had received a $3 million wire transfer from the campaign to cover the estimated cost of the recounts.

"No petition has been received yet, but the Trump campaign has told WEC staff one will be filed today," the tweet said.

Wisconsin Elections Commissioner Dean Knudson also tweeted about the cash transfer Wednesday morning.

In a Nov. 10 statement, Meagan Wolfe, the state's nonpartisan top election official, refuted the campaign's claims of fraud, saying the election "was conducted according to law and in the open."

The campaign's decision to petition for a recount won't likely lead to a change in results. Recounts tend to end with the changing of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of votes. Flipping tens of thousands of votes, which Trump would need to change the election results, is unlikely. Moreover, Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes would not change Biden's lead overall or push him below the 270 threshold needed to win the election.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.

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