Election 2020

Day One of Wisconsin Recount as Farcical as Expected

In case you haven’t been following the news, Jill Stein — with Hillary Clinton’s support — only succeeded in initiating a recount in one state: Wisconsin. Donald Trump won 306 electoral votes, and 270 were needed to clinch the election. As only Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes will be at stake in a recount, the outcome of the presidential election will remain the same.

So this recount, the first presidential recount in Wisconsin history, is being conducted with no practical political goal. Ironically, Jill Stein raised $7M purportedly to be spent on these recount efforts — approximately twice as much as she raised during her actual presidential campaign.

Pennsylvania’s secretary of State announced that Stein missed the deadline for filing in that much larger state, which hasn’t stopped Stein from filing a suit attempting to force a recount. And there now appear to be irregularities in the recount petition filed in Michigan, which are likely to prevent a recount from happening. Even if that difficulty is somehow overcome, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the recount on the grounds that it is “frivolous and expensive.”

Furthermore, Stein lost the suit she filed trying to require that every one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties conduct a hand recount of all ballots cast. The state election laws permit each county clerk the leeway to decide whether a hand recount or a machine recount is warranted, and the judge declined to reinterpret that law from the bench. Thus, for example, of the state’s two most Democratic counties, Milwaukee and Dane, Milwaukee County will conduct a machine recount, while Dane County has opted for the hand recount.

Adding a touch of scandal to the proceedings, conservative site Wisconsin Watchdog reports that Dane County clerk Scott McDonell has issued an appeal for paid temporary workers to conduct the hand recount – and this appeal seems to have been made exclusively through the Democratic Party, without Republican participation. The appeal called for workers to perform 12-hour shifts at a rate of $20 per hour.

The chairman of the Dane County Republican Party, Scott Grabins, was understandably upset when he found out about the email which had been sent to Democratic Party operatives. The county clerk attributed the matter to a “communications problem.” However, any such appeal was not allowed to begin with, as Grabins pointed out that the state’s Recount Manual requires that poll workers who actually worked on Election Day must be recruited first for any recount effort.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has been scrambling to find volunteer observers to witness the recount procedure.


As of Day One, one county (Menominee) reported completion of its recount. With 4,272 inhabitants on what is essentially the Menominee Indian reservation, it is the smallest county in the state. The result of the count found one additional vote for Clinton. Stein’s total went from 7 to 24, and Trump lost two votes. On Friday morning, WISN radio reported that Iron County, along the state’s northern border with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, was reporting a net shift of 11 votes in favor of Hillary Clinton.

That leaves 70 other counties and a total Trump victory margin of more than 22,400 votes, if anyone thinks this recount is likely to reverse the election results.

The recount has only begun today in Milwaukee County, as the Green Party insisted that all of the voting machines be tested first.

The recount must be completed by no later than December 13 for Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes to be certified and cast. This has led several pro-Trump Super PACs to file a lawsuit seeking to halt the count on the grounds that the recount disenfranchises Trump voters, and that the great haste with which the recount has to be mounted is prone to counting errors and resulting inaccuracies.