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2020 Year in Review: One of the wildest years in political history

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - A presidential race usually takes most of the headlines in an election year.

With an ongoing pandemic, it changed the way many parts of how a campaign and election are run, forcing Americans to consider their health when casting their ballots.

We begin in April where voters in the Coulee Region lined up or stayed at home to cast their ballots in the presidential primary. Wisconsin was one of the few states in the nation to host in-person voting despite the pandemic.

In July and September, campaigns were off and running. Vice President Mike Pence was the first big name to visit the area, stopping at a dairy farm in Brice Prairie.

"We leveled the playing field for American dairy," said Pence during a roundtable discussion over the USMCA.

The Vice President also spent Labor Day at Dairyland Power in La Crosse, speaking to a small crowd.

While Republicans like Congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden opted for in-person events, Democrats stuck to more virtual gatherings.

We also saw a new format for local debates. News 19 reporters and anchors served as panelists as they questioned local candidates about their plans for office.

"I think that these debates do offer us some important lessons for the future for how to deliver debates that offer a real sense of civility and respect yet also do highlight those differences between the candidates which help voters ultimately make an informed decision," said UW-La Crosse Political Science Professor Anthony Chergosky.

A week before the November election, President Trump hosted a rally at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, despite numerous pleas from state and local health officials not to come to Wisconsin.

Trump would make his first visit since 2016 when he was running for the party’s nomination. It would be the first presidential visit since Barack Obama in 2015.

Biden and Trump would make their final plea to voters, despite millions already with their mind, made up and ballot casted absentee.

Joe Biden won Wisconsin by just over 20,000 votes with the Associated Press calling the race on November 4th, the day after the election. President Trump then requested a recount in only Milwaukee and Dane Counties.

Biden would win the presidential race on November 7th.

The recount affirmed Biden’s victory in the state, and that’s when we started to see lawsuits in state and federal court, including one brought by La Crosse County GOP chair Bill Feehan.

The lawsuit looked to have Governor Evers decertify the election results for Joe Biden and certify them for President Donald Trump. The suit claimed the machines used in the election inflated the numbers for Biden.

That suit, along with all other lawsuits, was thrown out.

“If there was a fraud, if there was wrongdoing, if there were mistaken interpretations of the election laws, the courts have had many many chances to right those wrongs," said Chergosky. "What we’ve seen is a consistent outcome and that outcome is Wisconsin got it right."

Wisconsin and Minnesota electors cast their ballot for Joe Biden on December 14th, confirming him as the 46th President of the United States.

Chergosky told News 19 one of the biggest issues in this election was misinformation over election fraud and misconduct. He thinks this will continue to be an issue since people can tailor-make their information to their choice on the internet and social media. This ultimately allows them to essentially create their own reality, according to Chergosky.

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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