As the president’s path to 270 Electoral College votes narrows virtually every day, some members of his campaign say statistical evidence of fraud in Wisconsin could give him a victory.
One member of President Trump’s reelection team who spoke with the Washington Examiner on the condition of anonymity said ballot data in Milwaukee indicates illegal activity by Democrats in the city. The distribution of those ballots in favor of presumptive President-elect Joe Biden, the individual alleged, violates Benford’s Law — an analytical framework used by statisticians when observing a set of randomized data points.
Benford’s Law is often used by election analysts, both in the United States and abroad, to detect voter fraud or other sorts of improprieties in elections. U.S. government agencies, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture, often apply Benford’s Law when auditing information from farmers who rely on federal subsidies.
“The farmer was asked how much of each crop he harvested in the past year. I put together all of the quantities produced of all possible crops,” wrote one government analyst in 2006. “I find that more quantities produced begin with a five than would be suggested by Benford’s Law while fewer begin with a four, six, or seven. I can reject that the data comes from Benford’s distribution.”
The Washington Examiner has not analyzed Wisconsin’s voter data sets to see if they violate Benford’s Law, nor is any purported violation proof that criminal activity took place in the state. Some statisticians question its applicability, particularly in an election where ballot counters are organizing returns in a manner that differs from precinct to precinct.
Still, an adviser to the Trump campaign believes pro-Trump internet sleuths are onto something when they say there is an artificial distribution of votes in favor of Biden.
“We think this is good news,” the individual said. “If there’s fire where there’s smoke, it’ll come out during the recount.”
Roughly 20,500 votes currently separate Biden and Trump in Wisconsin. The two Trump campaign officials who spoke with the Washington Examiner say they believe there are enough irregularities to potentially flip the state back into the president’s column and dramatically change the race’s outcome.
On Nov. 6, the Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called for a comprehensive review of the state’s elections processes, citing allegations of potential fraud and violations of local regulations.
“With concerns surfacing about mail-in ballot dumps and voter fraud, Wisconsin citizens deserve to know their vote counted,” Vos said in a statement. “There should be no question as to whether the vote was fair and legitimate, and there must be absolute certainty that the impending recount finds any and all irregularities.”
The Trump campaign has said it plans to move forward with a formal demand of an initial canvass of the state, a process short of a recount that certifies the results of an election and inspect ballots for various discrepancies or errors.
“There were some serious irregularities on election day that we are looking into. We’ve already announced that we’re going to seek a statewide recount in Wisconsin, and we plan to do so,” Trump deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said. “We expect that the canvass, the initial canvass will be done Monday or Tuesday. And then that process will begin.”
Recounts rarely result in the overturning of tens of thousands of ballots as the Trump campaign hopes to see in Wisconsin. Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican and informal adviser to the Trump campaign, said on Wednesday that he remains doubtful the president could end up carrying the state.
“After recount in 2011 race for WI Supreme Court, there was a swing of 300 votes,” he tweeted on Nov. 4. “After recount in 2016 Presidential race in WI, @realDonaldTrump numbers went up by 131.”