What changed in Milwaukee that flipped Wisconsin blue

Milwaukee Central Count facility
Election 2020 Wisconsin Voting Central Count
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Posted at 5:55 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 18:55:06-05

MILWAUKEE — The race for the White House changed overnight in Wisconsin from Tuesday to Wednesday. The absentee ballots counted in early morning hours flipped the state from red to blue. As many people went to bed Tuesday, President Donald Trump was leading in Wisconsin. Now, it is former Vice President Joe Biden.

Election 2020 Wisconsin Voting Central Count
Workers count Milwaukee County ballots on Election Day at Central Count on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Part of that changed came from the City of Milwaukee’s central count. That is the central location where all absentee ballots are counted for the city. Around 3 a.m., election workers finished tallying the 169,000 absentee votes. Those results were then loaded onto flash drives and taken by police escort to the Milwaukee County Courthouse and handed to Julietta Henry, the Milwaukee County director of elections.

Milwaukee Central Count facility
Election workers process absentee ballots at Milwaukee's central count location.

“We wanted to make sure every person who voted in this election, their ballot was counted. And it takes time to process them. And we are pleased to say we are at 100 percent,” said Henry.

Those city votes were added to the county. Then, the county sent their totals to the state. That is when Biden vaulted into the lead.

Donald Trump, Joe Biden
In this combination photo, president Donald Trump, left, speaks at a news conference on Aug. 11, 2020, in Washington and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del. on Aug. 13, 2020. The conventions, which will be largely virtual because of the coronavirus, will be Aug. 17-20 for the Democrats and Aug. 24-27 for the Republicans. (AP Photo)

The Wisconsin Elections Commission director Meagan Wolfe later explained why the shift from President Trump leading to Biden may have seemed so sudden. In Milwaukee and other major cities like Kenosha and Green Bay, absentee ballots can be counted at a central location. But they cannot give any results until all those absentee votes are counted.

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Tuesday, November 3rd at 7:37 a.m. -- Poll workers are off to a strong start counting ballots at Milwaukee's Central Count facility. Crews are required to work until all ballots are counted - no going home tonight and coming back tomorrow.

“It is a process prescribed in law that allows any jurisdiction to centrally count their absentees,” said Wolfe. “You have to report the polling places and then add in all the central counts when all the absentees are done being counted.”

However, the election results are not official yet. There is still a process that makes sure each vote is correct. That has to first happen at the county level through a process called canvassing.

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Tuesday, November 3rd at 7:37 a.m. -- Poll workers are off to a strong start counting ballots at Milwaukee's Central Count facility.

“We will audit it by verifying that the last voter number in the book. The last voter number according to the pink slip and the last voter number on the tape all matches up,” said Henry.

Then the state will also have to canvass the results. They have until December 1st to get it done and then certify the election results.

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