Local county clerks are preparing to count ballots next week, as part of the presidential recount. Wednesday they will be having a video conference with the State Elections Commission to prepare for what’s to come.
In Shawano County, 16 people will spend the next week recounting presidential ballots, and those canvassing will be made up of a variety of people, according to Shawano County Clerk Pam Schmidt.
“Some are Chief Inspectors, some are actual Municipal Clerks, my Deputy Clerk because I was on the ballot, so I wasn’t supposed to be on the board, and the other two members are a Democrat and Republican that have served for the last few years,” Schmidt said.
Those 16 members are preparing to do a lot of manual counting, even though a judge denied Jill Stein’s request to require all ballots be counted by hand. Many of the local electronic voting methods use a paper roll, which requires counting by hand, at least in Shawano and Oconto counties.
“We have the ballots that are on the touch screen. Those ballots are on a paper roll, so we have to go through the paper roll and tally those up,” Schmidt explained about Shawano County’s electronic recounting method.
Oconto County faces a similar situation. County Clerk Kim Pytleski says they’ll be counting by hand anyway, so they can remain consistent, and because ten of the county’s 25 municipalities vote using paper ballots anyway.
“That’s one of the reasons I chose to do the hand count because everyone has ADA accessible voting equipment, which is called our Edge touch screen,” said Pytleski. “Those must be hand counted anyway because it’s a paper roll, so you don’t re-run that. We’ll verify those counts.”
The pressure is on for many of the Wisconsin County Clerks. The recount begins at 9 a.m. Thursday and must be completed by 8 p.m. on Dec. 12. Even with the added pressure, Pam Schmidt says she believes they’re capable.
“I’m pretty sure that for Shawano County we can [meet the recount deadline.] I’m estimating that hopefully we’ll be done next Thursday, not working weekends, hopefully.”
Many of the counties have participated in a recount before, specifically in 2011 for the State Supreme Court, although it wasn’t a recount of this size. Waupaca County Clerk Mary Robbins says they at least have some sort of an idea on what to expect, and the previous experience will be useful this time around.
“It definitely helped,” Robbins said of the experience gained in the previous recount effort. “We kept good records of it and we even took pictures of how we had it set up. I think that helps, at least we know we can survive.”
Kim Pytleski echoed Robbins’ thoughts and explains the procedure is straightforward.
“The Wisconsin Elections Commission recount manual is a great tool. We’re fortunate enough that we have very good people that work in Oconto County. As much as this is a larger process that we weren’t expecting this time of year, really it just validates the good work the clerks and poll workers have done.”
Overall, many municipalities are ready this situation as part of the democratic process, even though some in Waupaca County may feel the funds may be better suited elsewhere.
“People it seems, think it’s a lot of money to do something that we know already works, and has been tested through audits, tested in recounts previously for the [State] Supreme Court, and so to them, for somebody to be spending that kind of money when it could go to something better, that’s the biggest thing I’ve heard from our townships,” said Robbins.
Regardless of how some may feel, those involved in the recount efforts are stepping up with their time to go through the process. None of the County Clerks reported any trouble filling out their canvas.
Security will be tight during the recount process, at least in Shawano County, in order to keep the recount’s integrity in place.
“You have to make sure the room is secure, we’re having security, one of the deputies is going be there,” said Shawano County Clerk Pam Schmidt. “Everything that leads up to it, even planning for meals to be brought it for the tabulators, it’s just a lot of work and I don’t think there’s going to be much of a difference.”
All counties are required to keep track of all costs associated with the recount efforts, as the taxpayers will not be held responsible for the procedure. Jill Stein and her campaign will foot the costs.
Stein has raised almost $6.6 million for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. She paid the state of Wisconsin $3.5 million on Tuesday.