Gov. Scott Walker signaled support Wednesday for a bill that would only allow candidates to request a recount in state and local races if they trail the winner by a certain margin. The bill is a direct response to last year’s presidential recount that was triggered and paid for by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who received 1 percent of the vote. The recount, which cost Stein’s campaign a little more than $2 million and county and municipal clerks thousands of hours of additional work during a traditionally busy time of year, resulted in Donald Trump extending his lead over Hillary Clinton by 131 votes. It also revealed more than 11,000 errors in how ballots were counted on election night out of 3 million total votes cast, but no major flaws in the state election system. Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Reps. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, and Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, are lead sponsors of the bill, which LeMahieu said in December he would introduce in response to the recount. Walker also signaled support for such a proposal then, but details weren’t yet available.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
A new proposal from state lawmakers would only allow second place finishers to request election recounts in Wisconsin, a policy change that would have prevented Wisconsin’s recent presidential recount. The new proposal says only a second place finisher who comes within one percent of the winner can request a recount. That would have been about 7,5000 votes in the last presidential election. The bill’s sponsors say it’s in response to the presidential recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein last year. Stein only received about one percent of the vote in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin: GOP lawmakers to write blank check to hire lawyers in redistricting battle | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Republican lawmakers voted behind closed doors Thursday to give a blank check to hire two law firms — one of which routinely bills more than $800 an hour — in a legal battle over redrawing legislative maps. The move will add to a bill that has already topped $2 million. One of the firms the lawmakers hired is a high-powered legal operation where former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is a partner. Clement, who has Wisconsin roots, charges more than $1,300 an hour, according to published reports. Legislative aides would not say if Clement will be on the legal team they are assembling.
Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature plan to hire two law firms in hopes of overturning a ruling that found they must redraw legislative maps. Aides to Republican leaders declined to say Wednesday how much hiring the firms would cost taxpayers. A panel of three federal judges in the fall found maps Republicans drew in 2011 were so favorable to their party that they violated the voting rights of Democrats. Last month, the judges ordered them to establish new maps by November. Leadership committees in the Assembly and Senate are set to approve hiring the law firms on Thursday. The law firms will draft friend-of-the-court briefs to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision, said Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).
In November, a federal three-judge panel ruled that Wisconsin’s political boundaries are unconstitutionally gerrymandered to give an unfair advantage to incumbent politicians. (Judges last Friday reaffirmed the ruling.) Reform legislation will be introduced in the current legislative session to take the job of drawing political boundaries out of the hands of partisan politicians, and give it to a nonpartisan panel. Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, says Wisconsin elections are no longer competitive, and points to the state’s congressional seats in Washington as an example.
After striking down Wisconsin’s legislative maps as unconstitutional two months ago, a federal court Friday ordered Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers to redraw the districts by Nov. 1 to ensure their use in the fall 2018 elections. The three-judge federal panel rejected the state’s request to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on the case, which is being watched closely nationwide because it relies on a novel legal argument. But the panel also denied a request by the Democratic plaintiffs that the court draw the maps. The judges said that was a task better left to the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature and Walker, saying there was no evidence they wouldn’t comply with the order. “It is neither necessary nor appropriate for us to embroil the court in the Wisconsin Legislature’s deliberations,” the panel wrote.
Wisconsin: Recount raised ‘human error’ concerns among Wisconsin’s county clerks | Green Bay Press Gazette
Now that they’ve finished recounting roughly 3 million presidential election ballots, several clerks throughout eastern and central Wisconsin continue to worry about one aspect of the voting process. Human error. Some voters struggled to mark ballots correctly. Some made the correct marks, but used pens that scanning machines couldn’t read. Some forgot to have a witness sign an absentee ballot. Some election workers allowed unsigned absentee ballots to be counted. “One thing that surprised me (was) the amount of human errors that I’m still seeing with this election,” Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg said. Whether they might be able to improve the process, however, remains to be seen. Clerks agreed that machines used to tally votes worked as they were supposed to. But they also said the recount helped them discover human errors that, while they did not affect the overall outcome of the state’s presidential vote, might have been problematic in a local election in which fewer votes were cast.
Wisconsin’s presidential election recount costs will come in almost $2 million less than expected with only one county left to settle its bill. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein paid the state $3.9 million to start the recount but will be reimbursed with a final bill expected at $1.8 million, Wisconsin Elections Commission officials said. Brown County – the last of the state’s 72 counties to tally costs – is expected to have its final bill ready next week. Stein, who held a rally at the state Capitol Jan. 3, said she will use the leftover recount money to fund Count My Vote Wisconsin, an election reform and voting rights organization. Supporters donated money for Stein’s recount requests in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
The final cost of Wisconsin’s presidential recount will likely be about half of what was estimated. Seventy-one of the state’s 72 counties have reported their final recount costs to the state Elections Commission. The total is about $1.8 million. Last month, estimates from counties projected the cost of the recount to be about $3.8 million. Reid Magney, spokesman for the Elections Commission, said the overstimates were likely due to counties being “cautious” about the expense. “I think they probably, not knowing exactly what it would cost, wanted to make sure that their costs would be covered,” Magney said.
Wisconsin: Jill Stein: $1.5 million refund could pay for new voter advocacy group | Wisconsin State Journal
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein said a roughly $1.5 million refund from the Wisconsin recount could go toward a new voter advocacy effort in the state. Stein, who received about 1 percent of the vote and gained 66 votes in the recount, held a rally Tuesday at the state Capitol to address the results of the state’s historic recount, which her campaign paid $3.5 million to initiate, and launch Count My Vote Wisconsin. … Stein’s campaign raised more than $7 million in a short period to fund recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Only the Wisconsin recount made it past court challenges seeking to halt all three.