MADISON, Wis. — Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in Wisconsin by more than 20,600 votes based on final canvassed totals submitted to the state elections commission on Tuesday, a report that starts the clock for Trump to file a recount as he has promised supporters.
The canvassed totals show Biden beat Trump by 20,608 votes, which is a roughly six-tenths of a point margin — close enough for Trump to file for a recount. Biden widened his lead over Trump by 62 votes based on the canvassed results compared with unofficial totals posted by the counties before they were certified.
Trump has until 5 p.m. on Wednesday to submit the $7.9 million estimated cost for a statewide recount and other required paperwork. Trump could also file for a recount only in select counties, which would reduce his cost and allow him to target areas where votes were predominantly for Biden. Counties would have to start the recount no later than Saturday and complete it by Dec. 1.
Trump has been promising a recount in Wisconsin as part of fundraising pleas he's been issuing since he lost the election to Biden, but a campaign spokeswoman stopped short of promising a recount on Tuesday.
"The legal team continues to examine the issues with irregularities in Wisconsin and are leaving all legal options open, including a recount and an audit," said Jenna Ellis, Trump 2020 legal adviser.
Trump and other Republicans have made baseless claims of fraud and irregularities in the Wisconsin election, but the state's top elections chief and local officials have said there were no reports of widespread problems or wrongdoing.
An audit of every November election is required under state law, whether a candidate requests one or not. The audit will either take place as part of the recount or before the Dec. 1 certification if there is no recount, said Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney. The audit of ballots from 190 randomly selected reporting units is done by hand to verify the machine count, Magney said.
The counties canvassed results, which included provisional ballots not counted on Election Day, changed little from the unofficial results posted earlier.
Past recounts both in Wisconsin and nationwide have resulted in only minor changes in the vote total. A 2016 presidential recount in Wisconsin netted Trump just 131 additional votes. Trump's margin of victory that year, less than 23,000 votes, was similar to Biden's win this year.
The 2016 recount was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Trump opposed the recount at the time. State law was later changed to only allow candidates within a percentage point of the winner to request recounts.
A conservative group, True the Vote, on Monday moved to dismiss voter fraud lawsuits it had filed in Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania after the group's leader made baseless allegations questioning the integrity of the election.