Local clerks around Wisconsin will have about a day less than expected to complete a recount of the presidential ballots cast earlier this month.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Monday approved a timeline for completing a recount of the state’s presidential vote, which calls for having results submitted to the agency no later than 8 p.m. on December 12. The Commission had originally planned to give clerks until December 13, but pushed up the deadline amid concerns the WEC may not have enough time to review and certify the results before a federal deadline.
The recount was requested last Friday by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Independent Rocky De La Fuente, who have cited concerns that touch-screen voting machines may have been tampered with, potentially changing the outcome of the election.
Commission administrator Mike Haas dismissed those claims on Monday, pointing out that the machines are not connected to the internet, have memory devices that are kept in locked cabinets in clerk’s offices, and most use software that was written some time ago. He said an individual would need to have “unfettered physical access” to voting equipment and memory devices, and argued it would be “very unlikely” that someone could do that multiple times and avoid any detection.
Wisconsin voters this month backed Republican president-elect Donald Trump, with Democrat Hillary Clinton behind him by 22,177 votes. Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen raised doubts about whether the recount would end up causing a significant change to those results, noting a statewide recount in the 2011 state Supreme Court race only resulted in a shift of about 300 votes. Still, he said the process will “give us a very good audit, it’s going to reassure Wisconsin voters that we have a fair system.”
Clerks were given until noon today to submit their cost estimates for the recount to the WEC, which will then ask the Stein and De La Fuente campaigns to pay the amount in full by 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Commission members did approve a resolution that will require petitioners to cover at least half the cost of the recount to be considered a part of the process. Only the Stein campaign has so far shown an active fundraising effort.
The Commission also rejected a request to order a hand recount of ballots across the state. Staff noted only a court order could require clerks to do a hand count of ballots, and the decision to do one is up to each individual county. Stein’s campaign indicated it plans to file a lawsuit in Dane County court so it can obtain a court order “directing that the recount in that state be done exclusively by hand.”