Wisconsin election officials reject Trump campaign's unsubstantiated ballot claims

Joe Biden has a slim margin of votes over Trump.

November 5, 2020, 2:21 PM

Wisconsin election officials are rejecting complaints from the Trump campaign that there were irregularities in the voting process, reassuring voters that there are "no dark corners or locked doors in elections" and the state's voting process was transparent.

On Wednesday, ABC News characterized Democratic nominee Joe Biden as the “apparent winner” in the state, who leads President Donald Trump by more than 20,500 votes based on the unofficial Election Day count. One-hundred percent of the state’s precincts have reported results. ABC News has not officially projected a winner in the state because the margin is slim and the results have not yet been certified.

Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh attempted to raise concerns, without providing evidence to back his claim, that some ballots in heavily Democratic Milwaukee County had been “cured” in red pen, saying that poll workers, not voters themselves, “corrected or added information to the ballot itself.”

“We estimate that 15-20% of absentee ballots in Milwaukee County were tainted in this manner,” Murtaugh said, according to an NPR report on Thursday. “This is also only an estimate because our legal volunteers were prevented from having meaningful access all of the time.”

Milwaukee Elections Commission executive director Claire Woodall-Vogg has disputed Murtaugh’s claims. She told ABC News it's state procedure to use red pen on envelopes that are missing addresses or have poll workers call voters to confirm addresses.

“We use red pen in order to be completely transparent,” she said Thursday. "Both methods are 100% legal and were the same practices used in 2016.”

She added, “We provided ample access to our counting procedures on Tuesday to observers and also had approximately 70 poll workers present who represented the Republican Party in addition to observers."

Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe noted Wednesday there were no reports of irregularities of any kind on Election Day.

“I think that it's insulting to our local election officials to say that yesterday's election was anything but an incredible success that was a result of years of preparation,” she told reporters.

“There are no dark corners or locked doors in elections. Anybody was free to watch those processes as they unfolded yesterday,” she said. “Some of those jurisdictions even did things like live streams. You could watch ballots being counted all day if you wanted to and all night.”

The Biden campaign on Wednesday slammed the Trump campaign’s call for a recount in Wisconsin as “pathetic” and “fruitless attempts,” pointing out that when the Trump campaign won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, he called the victory a "landslide."

"When Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by roughly the same amount of votes that Joe Biden just did, or won Michigan with fewer votes than Joe Biden is winning it now, he bragged about a 'landslide,' and called recount efforts 'sad,'" Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to ABC News. "What makes these charades especially pathetic is that while Trump is demanding recounts in places he has already lost, he's simultaneously engaged in fruitless attempts to halt the counting of votes in other states in which he's on the road to defeat."

Bates continued: "This is not the behavior of a winning campaign. Plain and simple, Donald Trump has lost Wisconsin, he is losing Michigan, and he is losing the presidency. Put another way, 'It is what it is."

The Trump campaign cannot file a formal recount request in Wisconsin until the last county has submitted its canvas to the statewide elections commission, which can happen anytime between Nov. 10 and Nov. 17.

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