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Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW professors comment on what an election recount would mean in Wisconsin, believe it would result in no change

‘Historically, Wisconsin recounts have never — in modern history — resulted in changes of more than a couple hundred votes,’ UW professor says
Katie Hardie

After losing Wisconsin to President-Elect Joe Biden, President Donald Trump’s team declared they will be demanding a recount.

According to AP News, a recount can only start once every county in Wisconsin finishes canvassing the election results, and only 24 counties have finished canvassing as of Monday morning — there are 72 counties total.

University of Wisconsin Taylor-Bascom Chair in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor Dietram Scheufele weighed in on what a recount could mean and what he thinks the Republican party’s options are.


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“Option number one is conceding the Presidential race sooner rather than later to not put their two Georgia Senate candidates into a position where they have to align themselves with the President who’s unwilling to concede an election … I don’t think the Republicans want to do that,” Scheufele said. 

Scenario number two, Scheufele said, is the GOP supports Trump’s claims to secure his voters in the future House and Senate races in two years and the next Presidential election.

Two Georgia Senate races are going to runoff elections in January because neither candidate got the required amount of votes for a victory.

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UW Professor Emeritus of Political Science Dennis Dresang spoke on the probability of a recount occurring in Wisconsin.

“I think that a ballot recount is pretty likely, if not inevitable,” Dresang said. 

Though, Dresang also said he doesn’t think a recount would change anything, and that he believed calling for a recount is a strategy to drag out the election and call into question the trustworthiness of the results.

UW Political Science Professor Howard Schweber said he believes the strategy of demanding a recount is mostly meant for situations when the election comes down to one or two states with very close margins. This election does not fit that scenario, Schweber said, as Biden was declared the winner of four or five battleground states.

Schweber also said he does not believe this will prevent Trump from claiming results were illegitimate and promoting a false narrative of election fraud.

“Frankly, at this point, I think he’s [promoting a narrative of fraud] for purposes other than trying to reverse the outcome [of the election],” Schweber said. “I think he’s continuing to establish his brand and thinking about what he will do after he’s out of office.”

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Dresang said if the Trump administration does call for a recount, the ballots would likely be recounted by machine, meaning it would take a few days at most. Furthermore, the recount would only affect the Presidential election, as recounts are done by office, not for the entire ballot.

Scheufele, Schweber and Dresang all agreed a recount would result in little to no change in the results. 

“Historically, Wisconsin recounts have never — in modern history — resulted in changes of more than a couple hundred votes,” Schweber said.


Scheufele said he thinks Trump’s reason for calling a recount was not because he thought it would make a change, but that it was, “100% ego protection.”

According to AP News, Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said the deadline for counties to finish canvassing is Nov.17, and it is likely that counties will take until that date to finish.

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