Wisconsin Presidential Recount Is Underway
Green party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein paid the $3,499,689 estimated cost of a presidential vote recount to the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 29, beating the recount petition deadline. As a result, recounts will begin in all 72 Wisconsin counties starting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1. To comply with Federal law the recounts must be completed by Sunday, Dec. 13. The Electoral College meets on Monday, Dec. 19 to formally select the next President of the United States.
Originally petitions for the recount had been filed by Stein and independent candidate Rocky Roque De La Fuente. The De La Fuente campaign withdrew its petition on Tuesday, and will not be participating financially in the cost of the recount, according to a news release issued by the WEC.
Stein's running mate, Ajamu Baraka, at the time the petition was filed, was quoted as being opposed to involvement in the recount.
Recount petitions have also been filed by the Stein campaign in Michigan and Pennsylvania, which normally prefer Democrat Party candidates, but were taken by Republican Donald Trump in voting on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Spokesmen of all three states have said they anticipate no change in the outcome for their states. In order for Trump to no longer be declared winner of the presidential contest the results of all three states would need to be overturned in favor of Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton. Trump defeated Clinton by a 22,000 vote margin in Wisconsin.
State Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen, a Democrat, has said he expects the recount will re-affirm Trump won Wisconsin.
The law permits any candidate to petition for a recount provided they pay the estimated costs prior to the recount deadline.
Deadline for completing the recount is Monday, Dec. 12, and numbers must be certified by 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13.
In Marinette County the Board of Canvassers will continue to meet daily at 9 a.m. in the lower level jury room of the courthouse annex until the counting is complete. Observers, candidate representatives and assistants, and volunteers are to register before entering the room, according to a notice issued by Marinette County Clerk Kathy Brandt. Representatives of the candidates and their assistants, as well as news media, will be required to wear distinguishing name tags.
In Oconto County, under the direction of County Clerk Kim Pytleski, the Board of Canvassers will convene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, in Conference room 1003 and 1004 on the first floor of Courthouse Building A, and then at 8:30 a.m. each day except Sunday until the counting is complete.
Because of the recount activities, an Active Intruder Alert Drill in the Oconto County Courthouse has been canceled. The courthouse was to have been closed for the drill on Thursday, Dec. 1, the day the recount is starting.
On Wednesday morning, Nov. 30 Brandt and other County Clerks across the state were attending a webinar teleconference conducted by WEC staff for al county clerks and canvass members to go over recount rules and processes.
County Clerks have the option of doing the recounts via a hand count or electronic voting equipment. By state law, if electronic voting machines are used, the board of canvassers must perform the recount using the permanent paper record of the votes cast by each elector, as generated by the machines.
Stein and the Green Party had petitioned to have all the recounting in Wisconsin done by paper ballot, and the action was joined by Clinton on Tuesday. Clinton's Attorney, Josh Kaul, wrote in a memo to the court that a hand recount would be preferable to machine "because human beings can assess voter intent in a way that machines cannot." Clinton had maintained distance from the recount activities until joining the petition for a hand count.
Stein claimed in a Facebook post on Saturday evening that Wisconsin uses voting machines that have been outlawed, and said that is because they are so prone to tampering and hacking that they are an invitation for malfeasance.
A "politifact" commentary by Tom Kertscher in the Press Gazette on Wednesday remarked that it seems like something more serious ta a recount would be underway if outlawed voting machines had been used to help Republican Donald Trump win, if not in a landslide, the White House." Kertscher said he was told by Stein's campaign that she was referring to California's ban on electronic touch screen voting, but acknowledged the machines are not banned in Wisconsin.
Further checking, according to the article, showed that the California machines did not provide a paper trail at the time of voting, and those used in Wisconsin do.
Wisconsin voters can see their paper ballots to verify their contents before they finalize their choices.
According to Kevin Kennedy, former Wisconsin Elections Director, all voting equipment used in Wisconsin has been approved by the state, and in order to be approved it must first pass national testing standards.
Elections Commission Director Michael Haas has said he has received no indication of tampering with Wisconsin's election results.
In court testimony Tuesday, Haas emphasized that extensive measures are taken by local election officials to restrict unauthorized people from gaining physical access to the machines. State officials have said those machines are not connected to the Internet, meaning a potential cyber-attacker likely would need to access them in person.
The hand count request was denied on Tuesday by Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn. This enables each county clerk to determine which method works best for their county.
"I am very pleased with the Judge's decision, particularly because she followed the law enacted by the legislature that sets the perameters for a hand recount. The outstanding effort of the Department of Justice Attorneys and staff who worked on this case makes me extremely proud," Attorney General Bradley Schimel said after the decision.
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