County clerks around the state will begin doing a recount this morning of Wisconsin’s presidential voting.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein requested the recount last week, citing concerns election machines used in the state may have been tampered with. Stein placed fourth in the state’s presidential voting, which saw Republican president-elect Donald Trump win over Democrat Hillary Clinton by about 22,000 votes.
Given Stein’s finish and the large margin between Trump and Clinton, Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Mike Haas said some clerks have questioned whether a recount is actually necessary. Haas called that “understandable” during a teleconference with clerks on Wednesday afternoon, although Stein’s campaign has said it’s needed to ensure the integrity of vote.
Haas said the state’s contacts with clerks this week show most appear to be ready for the task. “The communications we have had from clerks have not been frantic or panicky,” he said.
Clerks will face a tight timeline to get the recount done in time – just 12 days. Haas said the biggest concern for many clerks is having enough staff to get the ballots counted before the December 12 deadline. The WEC has asked them to keep track of their pace and submit daily vote tallies each evening.
Haas said the agency is ready to work with clerks who have concerns about falling behind. He noted that rural areas have faced similar problems with finding staff for polling places, and clerks do have the option of bringing in workers from other areas to help with their recounts.
The WEC says 48 county clerks plan to do their recounts by hand, while 24 have indicated they plan to use machines to help with at least a portion of the process. Stein’s campaign lost a court battle earlier this week to compel a statewide hand recount, after a judge ruled there was no compelling evidence to mandate one.
Stein’s campaign is paying for the recount, which has a current cost estimate of $3.9 million.