Wisconsin Vote Recount Will Begin Thursday

MADISON, Wis. (CN) — Local election boards will decide whether to recount Wisconsin presidential ballots by hand or using electronic machines, a state judge ordered on Tuesday.

Donald Trump won Wisconsin by 1 percent, or approximately 22,000 votes, despite polls showing him lagging behind Democrat Hillary Clinton.

On Monday, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein demanded a hand recount of Wisconsin ballots, claiming that foreign governments hacked voting systems in other states.

But despite a motion in support from fellow presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn said she could not force municipalities to recount ballots by hand because there is no “clear and convincing evidence” of election fraud in Wisconsin.

“I follow the law; that’s who I am,” Bailey-Rihn said late Tuesday evening after an hours-long hearing, adding that she and any other informed person would prefer that ballots be hand-counted.

The defendant Wisconsin Elections Commission has two weeks to recount nearly 3 million votes, according to an agenda from its Monday meeting.

Stein paid nearly $3.5 million on Tuesday to cover the cost of the recount, according to the commission’s official Twitter account.

The state opposed the petition to force a hand recount, saying claims of vote fraud were pure speculation and that the petitioners acknowledged that a hand recount was unlikely to overturn the results.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement that he was “very pleased with the judge’s decision, particularly because she followed the law enacted by the legislature that sets the parameters for a hand recount.”

While municipalities have the option of recounting using electronic tabulation, Stein said that presents the same security and accuracy concerns that plague the current results, achieved primarily with touch-screen voting machines and optical scans of paper ballots.

“The 2016 presidential election was subject to unprecedented cyberattacks apparently intended to interfere with the election,” Stein said in her complaint, citing hacks of the Democratic Party email system and voter registration systems in Iowa and Arizona.

The complaint continues: “The Department of Homeland Security has stated that senior foreign government officials commissioned these attacks. Attackers attempted to breach election offices in more than 20 other states.”

Combined with the fact that 18 percent of voters in one poll do not view this presidential election’s results as legitimate, Stein says, voters cannot be asked to trust computerized recount systems.

Dane County, the second-largest county by population and vote totals, will recount its ballots by hand, according to court testimony.

Stein got 1.1 percent of the vote in Wisconsin, according to Ballotpedia. She is represented by Christopher Meuler of Friebert, Finerty & St. John in Milwaukee.

Local canvass boards will begin the recount on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 1. They are to complete the process by 8 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, according to court testimony.

Michigan is gearing up for its own recount at Stein’s request, but this one will cost the taxpayers – to the tune of $4 million, according to the state’s Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson

Stein is only required to pay $1 million, Johnson said in a statement.

“It is unusual that a candidate who received just 1 percent of the vote is seeking a recount, especially when there is no evidence of hacking or fraud, or even a credible allegation of any tampering,” Johnson said.

Nevertheless, Johnson added that county clerks will be working nights and weekends to recount the ballots to meet what Stein’s website calls “a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals.”