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Trump Campaign Continues To Challenge Wisconsin Election Results

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The transition to a Biden administration has begun. But President Trump still has not conceded. His campaign is behind a recount in Wisconsin, where they hope to narrow the margin. President-elect Joe Biden won the state by more than 20,000 votes. From member station WUWM in Milwaukee, Maayan Silver has this report.

MAAYAN SILVER, BYLINE: In a vast convention hall in downtown Milwaukee, there's a quiet hum of activity - people sorting ballots, running them through high-speed tabulators and sitting and observing. Every so often, voices beam through loudspeakers as three election commissioners - two Democrats, one Republican - deliberate on objections from campaign lawyers.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I think we've heard from both parties at this time. And I believe the evidence also shows that this ballot was cast in-person absentee in the village of Whitefish Bay.

SILVER: The Trump campaign has raised objections aimed at throwing out tens of thousands of ballots, more than Joe Biden's margin of victory. Officials in both Madison and Milwaukee have rejected those requests, sometimes unanimously, sometimes along party lines. But they have also ordered clerks to keep track of certain ballots, says George Christenson, Milwaukee County clerk.

GEORGE CHRISTENSON: The commission has granted the Trump campaign their request to separate envelopes, absentee envelopes, into at least two batches, which would be indefinitely confined, or envelopes where the witness signature and the witness address does not match.

SILVER: Trump's campaign is challenging sets of votes that were cast under procedures the state has long used. It's all part of the campaign's attempt not just to recount the votes, but also to challenge the validity of the votes in court. And the campaign's focus on Milwaukee and Madison, the most diverse parts of the state, have angered many.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: The people have decided. The people have decided. The people have decided.

SILVER: Outside of the recount hall, people are holding up 10-foot tall letters spelling out, the people decided. Among them was Kimyama Randolph (ph), a Black student in his 40s.

KIMYAMA RANDOLPH: It means a lot to me to be able to cast my vote. And I just want my vote to count. It's disheartening to see our chief executive flex his power in this way. I believe he should be someone that tries to unify us and bring us together and not separate or try to suppress our vote because it's not in his favor.

SILVER: Some Republicans agree. James Wigderson runs RightWisconsin, a conservative news site. While he's always opposed Trump, he says these latest efforts crossed the line.

JAMES WIGDERSON: And when you tell Black voters and Hispanic voters in Milwaukee and Madison that their ballots shouldn't count while Republican votes in Republican areas count, you're sending the wrong message in the long term.

SILVER: Legal experts say even if Trump's campaign is able to actually show the long-standing practices didn't comply with state law, a court is not likely to toss out voters' ballots and especially enough to change the results.

For NPR News, I'm Maayan Silver in Milwaukee.

(SOUNDBITE OF HANDBOOK'S "STARRY SKIES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.