Elections Commission Chair Ann Jacobs is scheduled this afternoon to sign off on the results of Wisconsin’s Nov. 3 election after recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties showed Joe Biden adding to his winning margin.
The determination of the results was originally scheduled for tomorrow. It’s now scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today.
Jacobs, a Dem appointee, said she moved it up a day in anticipation President Trump’s campaign will challenge the results to give the courts more time to resolve any disputes before upcoming deadlines.
But GOP appointee Dean Knudson says he believes the full commission should be signing off on the final results and only after receiving results from audits of a sample of voting machines from around the state.
The net impact of the recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties was Joe Biden adding 87 votes to his winning margin over Trump.
After the initial canvass of all 72 counties, Biden’s lead over Trump sat at 20,608 votes.
Trump tweeted Saturday that a lawsuit would be filed today or tomorrow. Meanwhile, Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis said the recounts “revealed serious issues regarding the legality of ballots cast” but offered no specifics.
“As we have said from the very beginning, we want every legal vote, and only legal votes to be counted, and we will continue to uphold our promise to the American people to fight for a free and fair election,” Ellis said.
Danielle Melfi, Biden’s Wisconsin state director, said the boards of canvass in both counties rejected Trump’s “baseless attempts to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who simply followed the law when they voted.”
“The facts are clear: after ballots were counted and counted again, Joe Biden decisively won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes,” Melfi said.
In noticing today’s action, the Elections Commission staff said a determination of the recount results is needed before a party can appeal.
State law says a party “aggrieved by the recount” can appeal to circuit court within five business days after “completion of the recount determination by the board of canvassers in all counties concerned” or “after completion of the recount determination by the commission chairperson or the chairperson’s designee.”
“This means that the Chair must determine the outcome of the election and a determination of the recount as soon as possible so that parties to a recount are then allowed up to 5 business days to file an appeal of the Chair’s determination in circuit court,” the commission staff wrote in an email accompanying the notice.
Tomorrow is the deadline for the results to be certified.
Jacobs said she hopes moving up the declaration of the results by a day can help ensure Wisconsin courts can resolve any challenge to the results before upcoming deadlines. Among those deadlined is the Dec. 8 “safe harbor deadline” after which Congress can’t challenge any electors’ names in accordance with state law.
Electors are required to meet Dec. 14 to cast their ballots for president. Electors seated between Dec. 8 and Dec. 14 can still vote, though they could be challenged by Congress.
“Given the really short time frame we have going on, even an extra day makes a difference,” Jacobs said.
Knudson argued waiting to certify until after seeing the results from the audit of voting equipment would increase confidence in both the results and the machine tabulations.
He also believes the full commission has a role in the certification process.
Knudson, a former GOP lawmaker who helped write legislation creating the commission, was chair in 2018 as Dem Tony Evers beat then-Gov. Scott Walker by 29,227 votes.
At that time, he delegated authority to certify the results to the Elections Commission administrator. Still, he argued that election was different because Walker didn’t seek a recount and there were no allegations of irregularities.
In contrast, he said the Trump campaign has signaled it plans to raise legal questions that haven’t previously been adjudicated in Wisconsin courts. That includes, for example, the Trump campaign’s argument that the Elections Commission has incorrectly advised local clerks they can fill in missing information on absentee ballots such as a witness’ zip code.
The commission already has a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. The meeting agenda includes an update on the post-election audit, which includes clerks in some communities doing hand counts of the results to compare against machine tallies.
“I believe our machines are accurate, and I don’t believe we’re going to find problems with the Dominion machines or any of the other tabulators we use in Wisconsin,” Knudson said. “But it would be very important for us to have that information before we do that certification.”
See tomorrow’s hearing agenda: