US Election

Election USA 2020: why did Donald Trump pay $3 million for recount in Wisconsin?

The whole saga’s ended up being a bit embarrassing for the lame duck president. He paid millions for a recount and his opponent Joe Biden gained more votes.

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Election USA 2020: why did Donald Trump pay $3 million for recount in Wisconsin?
Andy Manis AFP

A partial recount in Wisconsin paid for by the Trump campaign in the hope that it would overturn Joe Biden’s 22,500-vote lead in the state has so far only increased the Democrat’s winning margin, with the remainder of the recount highly unlikely to yield anything more promising for the president.

What happened in the Wisconsin recount?

Donald Trump filed a request for a recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties only, the states largest predominantly Democratic counties, on 18 November.

As Milwaukee’s second tally came to an end on Friday, it emerged that Biden had actually made a net gain of 132 votes, out of nearly 460,000 cast. Overall, the Democrat gained 257 votes to Trump’s 125.

Dane county, the second most populous county in the state to Milwaukee is expected to finish its recount on Sunday. Currently the recount there as of Friday was at 65% complete, and the Associated Press reported that so far Trump had made a 68 vote gain.

Why did Trump pay $3 million for partial recount in Wisconsin?

The Trump campaign transferred $3 million for the two recounts earlier this month after losing by thousands of votes less than Biden state-wide. The Trump administration and its lawyers are pinning its hopes on unproven allegations that absentee ballots were cast illegally or altered. So far no evidence has been put forward that supports these claims, and more than half of the court cases brought have been withdrawn, denied, dismissed or settled.

The Trump team had to decide on only a partial recount because the cost of a state-wide recount would have cost $7.9 million, according to officials.

He went on to choose the two most populous democrat-leaning states, in scattershot attempts to find any evidence of thus-far elusive election fraud that may favour the president.

Rules for a recount in Wisconsin are that for elections where more than 4,000 votes are cast, the margin is less than or equal to 0.25% of the total vote. If the margin is greater than those covered by the state, the requester pays.

In Wisconsin Biden’s margin of victory stands at 0.6% pre-recount and is unlikely to change.

"Once more, Trump’s debunked claims of widespread voter fraud utterly fail to withstand scrutiny — just like they haven’t held up in court in the over 35 cases they’ve lost since Election Day,” Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Gwin told Forbes.

Count, recount and recount again

Recounts have been a key strategy for the Trump campaign in sowing the seeds of mistrust in what was a fair election and dragging out the process as long as possible in the states with the closest margins.

A taxpayer funded recount is underway in Georgia even after an initial recount confirmed Biden’s win.