Election 2020

Biden gains votes in recount of Milwaukee County requested by Trump

An election official pauses during the ballot recount earlier this month at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. After recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, President-elect Joe Biden narrowly increased his winning margin over President Trump.
An election officials pauses during the ballot recount earlier this month at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wis. Officials in Milwaukee County, where President Trump had demanded a recount, said that Joe Biden's lead actually increased on review.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Trump's push to overturn the election results suffered another in a series of defeats on Friday — this time in Wisconsin, where officials in the state's most populous county announced that a recount had added to President-elect Joe Biden's lead. Albeit slightly: Out of the roughly 460,000 ballots cast in Milwaukee County, Biden made a net gain of 132 votes on review.

The results offer unwelcome news for Trump, who lost to Biden in Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes and lost the national popular vote by more than 6 million.

The Trump campaign paid the Wisconsin Elections Commission a fee of $3 million to proceed with recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties. The two counties, which together account for roughly a quarter of the state's population, swung heavily for Biden with 69 percent and 75 percent of the vote, respectively.

Dane County is expected to wrap up its own recount by the end of the weekend.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly and baselessly claimed that widespread fraud decided the election for his rival — not just in Wisconsin, but also in other battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan. Those claims have not held up in court, however, and Trump's legal setbacks have mounted in recent weeks.

"Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so," federal appeals Judge Stephanos Bibas wrote in an opinion released Friday denying the Trump campaign's challenge of the results in Pennsylvania.

"Charges require specific allegations and then proof," said Bibas, whom Trump nominated to the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. "We have neither here."

The defeats have failed to dissuade Trump, who continued to tweet false claims overnight, saying without evidence that the votes against him in Pennsylvania and "all other swing states" were "RIGGED."

Still, his efforts may be having the unintended effect of underlining the veracity of the election results. Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said Friday that the recount's results should affirm voters' faith in the election process.

"The recount demonstrates what we already know, that elections in Milwaukee County are fair, transparent, accurate and secure," he said Friday, according to Reuters.

The clock is ticking for the Trump campaign if it wants to continue to press its case in Wisconsin. The state's vote is due to be certified by Tuesday.

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