A Dane County judge on Tuesday denied a request by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to require all votes in Wisconsin’s presidential election to be recounted by hand, as officials in each of the state’s 72 counties ready for the recount to begin Thursday.
The recount became official Tuesday afternoon, when the state Elections Commission announced it received a $3.5 million payment for the recount from Stein’s campaign, which requested it. State law says candidates may request a recount of their election if they pay for it.
Stein’s campaign has raised more than $6 million in recent days for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — three states that tipped the Electoral College to Trump, and where polls did not predict a Trump victory.
Yet even Stein’s allies expressed fresh doubts about the value of the recounts. Stein’s running mate, Ajamu Baraka, told CNN Tuesday: “I’m not in favor of the recount.”
Trump leads Clinton in Wisconsin’s official tally by more than 22,000 votes, or less than a percentage point. State Elections Commission chairman Mark Thomsen, a Democrat, said Monday he expects the recount will re-affirm Trump won.
Clinton’s legal team largely stayed on the sidelines in the recount until Tuesday, when her campaign joined Stein’s court request for a hand recount.
Clinton’s attorney, Josh Kaul, wrote in a memo to the court that a hand recount is “preferable to a machine recount because human beings can assess voter intent in a way that machines cannot.”
Fifty-six counties have told the commission or the Wisconsin State Journal that they plan to do full or partial hand recounts. Other counties plan to use scanning machines to re-tabulate the votes.
Recount could cost nearly $4M
The amount quoted to the Stein campaign was about $400,000 cheaper than the actual statewide cost estimate of $3.9 million. A spokesman for the Elections Commission said the estimate was based on a tabulation error of the 72 county estimates.
Spokesman Reid Magney said the Stein campaign would pay the actual cost of the recounts, even if it is higher or lower than the estimates.
The recount is happening on an expedited timetable to comply with a federal law requiring all disputes relating to the presidential election results be resolved by Dec. 13. The deadline is slated in advance of the Electoral College’s scheduled meeting on Dec. 19 to formally elect the next president.
The recount is expected to take several days as clerks across the state bring together scores of employees — some temporary — to count ballots. The ballots will be counted by hand or fed through optical scanners, depending on what kind of voting equipment was used.
If the candidates disagree with the results of the recount, the law gives them the right to appeal in circuit court within five business days after the recount is completed, the Elections Commission said.
American Delta Party candidate Rocky Roque de la Fuente withdrew a Wisconsin recount petition Tuesday, saying the cost was too high.
Stein’s campaign has argued that if voting machines were tampered with, using those same machines to re-tabulate the votes “risks tainting the recount process.”
The 56 counties who have said they already plan to do full or partial hand recounts, account for about 60 percent of all votes. Another 13 counties, including Milwaukee, are only doing optical scan recounts, and the other three haven’t settled on a plan.
Experts: Cyber-attack of vote machines possible
State law sets a high bar for a judge to order a statewide hand recount. The law says the candidate seeking one must give “clear and convincing evidence” that using machines to conduct a recount will produce incorrect results and that there’s a “substantial probability” that recounting the ballots by hand or another method will produce a more correct result — and change the outcome of the election.