The recount in the state Supreme Court race will begin Wednesday and barring a court-ordered extension, must be finished by May 9. Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board discussed the recount procedure Monday with local election officials from nearly all 72 counties. Given the rarity of a statewide recount, clerks on the conference call peppered board attorneys with questions about everything from what to do about challenged ballots to what to do with observers seen holding pens that could alter a vote.
Challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg asked for the recount after results showed she lost to incumbent Justice David Prosser by 7,316 votes, roughly one-half of 1 percent of the 1.5 million votes cast in the April 5 election. The recount is the first in a race involving candidates since 1858. The only other one, in 1989, involved a referendum.
Kloppenburg said last week when she asked for the recount that she hoped to shine light on how the election was conducted. Prosser’s campaign has been pressuring her to give up, saying the margin was too large to overcome.
The cost of the recount will be borne by local governments, not the state or the campaigns. It will be done in all counties simultaneously, although smaller counties and those that don’t have to do any of the recounting by hand will likely finish sooner than others. Staff with the GAB urged canvass board members and election clerks to work through the weekends to meet the May 9 deadline under the law.