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Trump campaign filing for partial Wisconsin recount, deposits $3 million to challenge Biden victory

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US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Waukesha County Airport in Waukesha, Wisconsin on October 24, 2020.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump‘s reelection campaign on Wednesday said it will file for a partial recount in Wisconsin to challenge President-elect Joe Biden‘s victory in the state.

The campaign wired $3 million to Wisconsin election officials to cover the cost of the anticipated recount request.

Trump’s campaign said in a statement that it will petition to recount the ballots in two heavily Democratic counties, Milwaukee and Dane. The campaign claimed “illegal” voting activity was carried out by Wisconsin election officials, without providing evidence of any widespread problems that could upend Biden’s more than 20,000-vote lead.

The recount would have to be completed before the chair of the state’s elections commission certifies the results on Dec. 1.

Biden won 49.5% of the ballots cast in Wisconsin, compared to 48.8% for Trump. The Republican incumbent had won the state in 2016 by less than 1 percentage point over Hillary Clinton.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission received verified vote results from all 72 of the state’s counties on Tuesday. The deadline for requesting a recount is 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Biden is ahead of Trump by about 180,000 votes in Milwaukee, and by approximately the same number of ballots in Dane. In Milwaukee, Biden won 75.5% of the ballots cast, and in Dane won more than 69% of the ballots.

The campaign claimed in its statement Wednesday that “these two counties were selected because they are the locations of the worst irregularities.”

Absentee ballots were “illegally altered,” and “illegally issued” by elections officials, who also allegedly offered “illegal advice” to voters, the campaign’s statement said.

“The people of Wisconsin deserve to know whether their election processes worked in a legal and transparent way. Regrettably, the integrity of the election results cannot be trusted without a recount in these two counties and uniform enforcement of Wisconsin absentee ballot requirements. We will not know the true results of the election until only the legal ballots cast are counted,” said Jim Troupis, counsel to the campaign.

“We will not stop fighting for transparency and integrity in our electoral process to ensure that all Americans can trust the results of a free and fair election in Wisconsin and across the country,” Troupis said.

The Trump campaign has filed numerous lawsuits in the key states that propelled Biden to victory, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Nevada.

On Monday, plaintiffs aligned with Trump in four states, including Wisconsin, dropped their lawsuits challenging ballots seen as giving Biden his margin of victory in those locales.

The dismissals of the cases all involved plaintiffs represented by lawyer James Bopp and the conservative group True the Vote. In addition to Wisconsin, the other states were Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

So far, those court efforts have failed to overturn the results, and legal analysts say Trump has little if any hope of doing so, both because of the number of states he would need to reverse the results in, and because of the number of ballots that would need to be invalidated.

Biden’s campaign and elections officials have said there was not widespread illegal voting, much less levels of such improper voting that made a difference in any single state.

Brian Rothgery, a spokesman with Milwaukee county, told NBC News that the county is “very well prepared” for this recount. 

Milwaukee county will begin counting Friday if the official recount order is submitted from the Wisconsin Elections Commission by Thursday.

The county estimates that some municipalities will be complete within one day, with the city of Milwaukee taking no longer than six days to complete their count.

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