It’s the other “R” word in this historic year of Wisconsin politics: Recount. If recall election vote totals between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Tom Barrett are within a 0.5 percent margin, a free recount can be requested. The apparent loser can ask for a statewide recount, or recounts only in specific counties. Most polls give Walker margins-of-error leads over Barrett, whose supporters say their own surveys show the race is tied. With only 2 percent or 3 percent of poll respondents saying they are undecided, a recount is possible. We’ve seen this recount movie before. Only 13 months ago.
On April 5, 2011, a first set of returns appeared to give challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg a slim victory over incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. It looked like a stunning upset. But, after the first statewide recount in modern Wisconsin history, Prosser won a new 10-year term. Out of 1.5 million votes cast, Prosser’s final margin was 7,000 votes.
The Government Accountability Board predicts a vote total of between 2.5 million and 2.8 million Tuesday. In November 2010, Walker beat Barrett by 124,638 votes out of a total of 2.13 million votes both received. GAB Director Kevin Kennedy said his agency, and local clerks who conduct elections, know that a Walker-Barrett vote recount is possible. “We’ve dusted off the plan from last time,” Kennedy added. “We probably weren’t thinking about it as much last year as we should have.”