In the St. Croix County government building, just across the river from Minnesota, Thursday felt a bit like Election Day. Once again, county officials lugged in the heavy machines used to count ballots, set up a table for people to check in and prepared to brief a team of elections workers about the long day that lay ahead. Shortly after 9 a.m., after she’d ensured that everyone and everything was in place — the ballot counters, the political-party observers, the coffee pot and doughnuts — St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell welcomed the 30 or so people gathered in the county’s board room. “This is a recount for the president of the United States,” she said. “It’s something I thought I’d never say, but we’re doing this.” Recount operations began across Wisconsin’s 72 counties on Thursday, following a request from Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who is footing the bill for the nearly $3.5 million effort. It is the first statewide recount prompted by a candidate since 2000, when Florida carried out a much-watched recount to settle the race between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. Over the next 12 days, officials will recount nearly 3 million ballots.
This recount, in a state where Republican Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 27,000 votes — and where Stein picked up just over 1 percent of the vote — isn’t expected to change the result of the election. (Stein has also asked for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania.) Stein initiated the recount after suggesting that voting machines in the state could have been hacked, tilting the election in favor of Trump.
… Stein had asked that all counties be required to count the votes by hand. A Wisconsin judge denied that request this week, leaving local officials to determine how to proceed. In St. Croix County, ballots recounted Thursday morning were fed through machines.
As in other counties, St. Croix’s proceedings were open to the public. Thursday morning, a handful of observers identified themselves as representing the Green, Republican and Democratic parties, while another represented the Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, a nonpartisan election watchdog group.