Finalizing the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin proved difficult this year, with the state thrust into a national battle over recounting the results.
Despite finishing fourth in the state’s presidential vote, Green Party nominee Jill Stein requested the recount Thanksgiving week. Stein campaign manager David Cobb said it was needed to give voters confidence in the outcome of the election – won by Republican President-elect Donald Trump.
“We are not interested in trying to change the result of the election,” Cobb said. “We are interested in verifying the results of the election, and to ensure that there’s integrity.”
The request came amid questions about possible Russian interference in the presidential election, and concerns that technology used to cast ballots on Election Day could have been “hacked” to change the outcome. While Stein’s campaign presented experts who explained how that could have happened, the campaign did not provide any actual evidence of outside interference.
Republican Governor Scott Walker criticized the move as a PR stunt designed to help raise money for Stein and the Green Party. Her campaign did in fact raise more than $7 million to help fund recount efforts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
With a December 13 federal deadline looming to certify the results of the election, along with nearly three million ballots cast, state officials were forced to move fast.
Stein’s campaign lost a legal battle to order a hand recount, although a majority of county clerks still planned to do one. The monumental effort got underway on December 1 without major incident, while a judge rejected an effort by Trump supporters to halt the process.
The recount wrapped up ahead of schedule on December 12th – something Wisconsin Elections Commission head Mike Haas said was a credit to the work of county clerks around the state.
The process did identify a few hundred votes that were missed or counted wrong on election night, and ended up adding a net 131 votes to Trump’s total margin of victory. While clerks are still working to determine the final price tag, the process could end up costing the Stein campaign up to $3.9 million.