Milwaukee's central count facility on Election Day. Photo by Adam Kelnhofer, Nov. 3, 3030.

A potential recount of last week’s presidential election would likely wrap up in the first week of December, according to a timeline laid out today by the state’s top election official.

Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe told reporters today she anticipated some counties would take until the Tuesday deadline to canvass election results and turn them over to the state. That’s the first in a series of “cascading deadlines” that could affect when a potential recount can be finished.

Wolfe’s projection would give the Trump campaign until 5 p.m. Wednesday to file for a recount and pay the estimated costs should it choose to pursue one. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien indicated last week it would.

If WEC received a recount petition and the payment ahead of that deadline, commissioners would authorize the recount process to begin. Wolfe said commissioners have a meeting scheduled for Nov. 19 in anticipation of a potential recount petition but could delay approving the recount for a couple of days for timing and logistical purposes.

Once the commission orders a recount, county clerks have 13 days to organize, convene and conduct the process. That deadline would fall on Dec. 2 if a recount was ordered on Nov. 19.

The commission faces a Dec. 1 deadline to certify county canvasses, but Wolfe said that deadline is flexible if a recount is ordered. She added she believes commission Chair Ann Jacobs, who has sole authority over certifying the election results, intended to do so in the first week of December. In 2016, the recount took 10 days to complete and cost just over $2 million. It was certified on Dec. 12, a little more than a month after that year’s election on Nov. 8.

Wolfe said she’s not aware of any reports of fraud from last week’s election but added such allegations aren’t generally reported directly to the Elections Commission.

“If there was any indication of somebody voting twice or any other type of misconduct of the election, that local election official reports that straight to their district attorney, and so it actually doesn’t come through our office,” she said.

State law requires the commission to send an annual report to the Legislature detailing cases of suspected election fraud, irregularities or violations. The most recent report sent by the commission in September included 19 instances since February 2019.

The referrals include:
*seven cases of voting twice in the same election, including four where a voter is suspected of voting in two different municipalities, two in which a voter is suspected of voting both absentee and at polls; and one in which a voter is suspected of voting in-person absentee and absentee by mail;
*seven cases of undeliverable election day registration confirmation postcards;
*four cases of incorrect voter registration address;
*one case of ineligible voter registration – felony.

The report covers a period in which there were six elections administered in the state. A WisPolitics.com review of the commission’s EL-190 reports shows nearly 3.8 million voters participated in those elections, putting the rate of referrals as a percentage of the total number of voters at 0.0005 percent.

Still, Wolfe said just because she wasn’t aware of any reports of voter fraud “doesn’t mean that there haven’t been municipal clerks that have found some type of irregularity or some type of isolated voter fraud that have potentially referred that to their district attorneys.

See the report, starting on page 43:
https://elections.wi.gov/sites/elections.wi.gov/files/2020-08/August%2020%20Open%20Session%20Packet.pdf

See Wolfe’s availability:
https://wiseye.org/2020/11/12/news-conference-wisconsin-elections-commission-election-update-11/

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