President Trump can still win the election. The same media outlets that were eager to report his demise with poll after poll showing him down in key battleground states are now rushing to call states with outstanding or disputed votes.
On election night, I repeatedly stated that the president would carry the first wave of states after the polls closed on the East Coast with Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott gave me positive information about inroads being made in Miami-Dade County. Georgia was closer than expected, and North Carolina is frequently a close call.
Then, I noted that Texas, Ohio and Arizona would go with the Trump-Pence ticket. Gov. Greg Abbott made it clear to me that Texas was not going to fall. He was right. Ohio came through again in 2020 for the president. Many in the media rushed to judgment and called Arizona.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey updated me on the number of outstanding ballots and he was confident that they would change the state to red. With more than 550,000 ballots yet to be counted, getting 60% or more of the votes could push the president to victory in Arizona.
Then it boils down to the Big 10 states: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. My prediction has been for the commonwealth to come through for the president. Still, the election is too close to call in my home state of Wisconsin.
With millions of ballots cast in the Badger State, the margin is less than one percentage — fewer than 21,000 votes. My suggestion for the Trump campaign is to prepare for a recount after the completion of the canvass.
In Wisconsin, a candidate may request a recount if the difference in votes between the candidate and the leading candidate is not more than 1% of the total votes cast for the office. The petition must be filed no later than the third business day, or in an election for president no later than the first business day, after the state election commission receives the last statement from a county board of canvassers. The candidate must pay for the recount unless the candidate is the leading candidate following the recount.
County officials meet to canvass local election returns no later than the Tuesday after the election. Results must be transmitted to the state election commission no later than 14 days after the election. The state elections commission canvasses and certifies results on Dec. 1. The state canvass must conclude within 10 days of being commenced.
The margin between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is less than 1 percent, so requesting a recount is a legitimate legal option for the Trump campaign considering the slim margin of about 21,000 votes out of the millions cast in Wisconsin. I believe they need to prepare for a recount now.
During the past decade, a statewide recount has happened twice. Four years ago, the presidential election results in Wisconsin went through a recount with Donald Trump picking up 131 votes. And in 2011, there was a swing of 300 votes in a Wisconsin Supreme Court race. With that in mind, changing a few hundred votes seems more likely than a few thousand — 21,000 is a high hurdle.
Having said that, the canvass process might reveal problems in the reporting of votes. In 2011, thousands of votes from the City of Brookfield were found to have never been submitted to the Waukesha County Clerk. Once those votes were added, the outcome was reversed from a 204 vote lead on election night for the challenger to a 7,316 vote lead for the incumbent.
The canvassing could lead to tighter election results in Wisconsin. That would make the prospect of the outcome changing much more likely than just pursuing a recount now.
Twenty years ago, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were battling each other for electoral votes, Wisconsin was one of the states being considered for a recount. We had, on video, images of a Park Avenue socialite going to Milwaukee area homeless shelters and offering packs of cigarettes for people who voted early for Al Gore. The “smokes for votes” scandal picked up national attention.
In the end, the Bush-Cheney campaign opted to put all of their resources and attention into the State of Florida. After a lengthy recount process and legal battles that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, George W. Bush won the election for president.
President Trump’s path to reelection is likely to go through Arizona and Pennsylvania, but Mr. Trump’s team should not write off Wisconsin. The bottom line is that no one should declare victory in America’s Dairyland until the state certifies the canvass. The president’s team should prepare for a recount in Wisconsin right now.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him @ScottWalker.
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