MADISON, Wis. (AP) — More than two-thirds of Wisconsin counties had completed certifying the results of last week’s presidential election as of Wednesday, but the last one is still not expected to be finished until the Nov. 17 deadline.
All counties must finish the work before President Donald Trump can request a recount as he has said he will. Unofficial results showed Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump by about 20,500 votes. That is within the 1-point margin to allow for a recount, but the 0.63-point spread is wide enough that Trump would have to pay for it.
A 2016 presidential recount, which resulted in only a 131 net change in votes, cost Green Party candidate Jill Stein about $2 million.
As of Wednesday, 49 out of 72 counties had submitted their canvassed results to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Some of the state’s largest counties were still working on it, including Milwaukee, Dane, Waukesha and Brown.
Brown County Clerk Sandy Juno said in an email Wednesday that it was a “slow going process” and they were down on available staff members due to COVID-19. Juno said she did not anticipate finishing the canvass until the Nov. 17 deadline.
Trump has until 5 p.m. the day after the last canvass is completed to request the recount.
The certified vote totals in the 49 counties that have submitted their returns changed little from what they reported on election night. Thirteen counties showed no change. In the others, Biden’s vote total dropped by 51 votes while Trump’s fell by 208, giving Biden a net gain of 157 votes.
In most counties, the vote change from what was reported on election night versus the certified results was up or down only a handful of votes either way.
The biggest single change was in the city of Shawano, where Trump lost 274 votes. The mistake was made by a worker who entered 636 total votes for Trump in one city district rather than the correct 362 votes when they reported the totals to the county on election night, said Shawano County Clerk Pamela Schmidt. The error was caught during the canvassing process, she said.
Trump carried Shawano County with 67% of the vote.