Post-Election Fallout

Record turnout, an impending recount and a Republican-ordered investigation

Against the backdrop of a state investigation into unsubstantiated rumors of voter fraud, the official tally of Door County’s vote was completed on Tuesday during the county canvass. Door County Clerk Jill Lau said no differences were discovered during the canvass. 

The perfect count came even though a record number of voters turned out for the Nov. 3 election: 92 percent of Door County’s registered voters, with more than 50 percent of those votes cast through absentee ballots. 

All Wisconsin counties are required to submit their canvass to the Wisconsin Elections Commission by 5 pm on Nov. 17. If the Trump campaign follows through with its intent to pursue a recount – President-Elect Joe Biden took the state by some 20,000 votes – the Trump campaign would have until 5 pm on Nov. 18 to request the recount and pay all fees associated with it. 

Lau has gone through several recounts during her career as county clerk, including the presidential recount in 2016, when she said “very minimal” differences were discovered. She anticipated it would take five to eight days to recount votes in Door County. 

As county clerks across the state finalize their official votes, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has requested a review of how the election was administered in Wisconsin. 

On one hand, Vos praised Wisconsin’s election system as “one of the best in the country.” On the other, he requested the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections look into allegations of “mail-in ballot dumps and voter fraud.”

“There should be no question as to whether the vote was fair and legitimate, and there must be absolute certainty that the impending recount finds any and all irregularities,” Vos said in a statement.

Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief election official, said misinformation circulating on social media and political websites has raised the unfounded rumors about the integrity of Wisconsin’s election results.

“Wisconsin’s election was conducted according to the law and in the open,” Wolfe said in a statement. “While the results are still unofficial and are currently being triple-checked as part of the canvass and certification process, we have not seen any credible information to cast any doubt on those unofficial results.”

Wolfe said no evidence has been provided to support allegations of systemic or widespread election issues. Lau said clerks across the state are confused about what the Assembly would be investigating and at what level, whether municipal, county or statewide.

“It’s very unclear to us,” Lau said. “Did somebody actually physically see this, or are they making assumptions? Are we looking at a specific county or counties, or all 1,850 municipalities? So many questions.”

Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) said he thinks the investigation is a good idea and that it is “not a Republican attempt to steal the presidency. It’s giving people confidence. The evidence is not there at this point at all that there was any kind of fraud. But we’ll answer those questions.”

To date, President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election or cooperate with President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team. Instead, Trump and his allies have put forth claims that the election was stolen, despite a lack of evidence of fraud or other irregularities. 

Kitchens said he receives plenty of emails from voters who are convinced that voter fraud has created illegitimate election results. The investigation, he said, is one way to restore faith in the system and legitimize the election for those voters.

“Speaker Vos does not believe these results are going to be thrown out,” Kitchens said. “It would be extremely unlikely you would find 20,000 ballots that could be thrown away. The hope would be people can move on and say, ‘Yes, he [Biden] was elected president.’ We don’t want thousands of people running around saying, ‘He’s [Biden] not my president.’”