By Joe Bachman
On Nov. 8, over two million votes of Wisconsinites were counted, and nearly a month later, they will be counted again.
Former Green Party candidate Jill Stein filed a petition requesting a recount for her party over suspicion of voter fraud — a request that will cost $3,499,689 dollars. While recounts are rare, the difference between president-elect Donald Trump and former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was narrow, as Trump won by a margin of just over 22,000 votes.
Counties all across the state prepare for the recount, slated to begin this Thursday, and for the most part it’s not business as usual. When posed the question to Wood County Clerk Cindy Cepress if the recount process will require extra time and bodies, her answer was straight-forward.
“Oh my goodness, yes,” said Cepress. “My office will be short-staffed during this, and services to the public will be reduced — there are times when my office doors will have to be closed, which has never happened before in the history of my office.”
Understaffed and overworked, the County Board of Canvass will carry out the election process for Wood County, which includes a short team as is. They are required to complete the recount of nearly 40,000 votes by 8:00 p.m. on Dec. 12.
“We are working through the weekend to accomplish this,” said Cepress. “I have a timeline and I have workers lined up and recount tabulators through next Friday.”
However, Cepress is optimistic based on past recounts that the process will be done quickly and efficiently. Cities are also involved in the process, though according to Wisconsin Rapids City Clerk Paul Przybylski, their involvement is limited.
“We have to provide the county with absentee applications that go with the absentee certifications envelopes, that are now empty,” said Przybylski.
In addition, the city must provide the county with a calibration test of the voting machines to make sure they are functioning properly, as well as the results of the test prior to election day. The city will also give the county their poll books. Luckily, for most cities in Wisconsin, including Nekoosa and Port Edwards, the responsibilities are light, and most of the work will fall on the counties.
“We don’t have much responsibility as the county does,” said Przybylski. “Our results have already been certified by the county, so they already have all of our ballots and all of our materials.”
With all of the hustle and bustle in this historic recount process, the lingering question remains — will there be any difference in the new vote tallies compared to the election? According to Cepress, she’s confident in the original results.
“Having gone through one [recount] before, I have no doubt we will prove that there is no hacking,” said Cepress. “There’s small anomalies because humans conduct elections, but as far as a large difference, I don’t see it.”