Because of older technology in some computing tabulation machines related to the state Supreme Court election in Wisconsin, JoAnne Kloppenburg and David Prosser’s campaigns agreed to a hand recount in parts of 31 counties. In those counties, if the recount were done electronically, the original voting data would have to be erased, an unfavorable scenario.
You can see here (h/t Jessica Arp) which counties will experience the hand recount, and it includes a partial hand recount in 34 municipalities in Waukesha County, site of the notorious “found votes” a couple days after the election, which put David Prosser into his 7,316-vote lead.
Brad Friedman has more on the developments of the recount, including the Kloppenburg campaign’s request for a special investigator in Waukesha County, and some other new information:
Details included in Kloppenburg’s request for a special investigator in Waukesha — including the curious point that Prosser “was observed entering the Governor’s Office late in the evening and attending a private, one-on-one meeting with Governor Scott Walker” on the night following the election, on the very same day in which the controversial new GOP Governor publicly stated that there might be “ballots somewhere, somehow found out of the blue that weren’t counted before.” — are certainly compelling.
Moreover, information and questions about the “recount” process itself have naturally emerged — including a noteworthy, video-taped exchange between a citizen activist and the head of the G.A.B. on Wednesday, as well as concerns about which districts will hold court-ordered hand-counts, and which will simply run ballots through oft-failed, easily-manipulated optical-scan computers again (or worse, simply push a button to produce the same printed reported by the same 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines)…
The complaint basically says that the Government Accountability Board works too closely with the county clerks to investigate them, and that an independent counsel must be brought in. The complaint goes through the circumstances in Waukesha on Election Night and the checkered history of County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. [cont’d.]
As for the recount, in those areas without a hand recount, the ballots will be re-tabulated through the same optical scanners. However, as Brad notes, “state recount procedures allow that campaigns may examine each ballot before it’s fed through the machine which could amount to a ‘virtual hand count’ of sorts — at least where paper ballots exist.” There are a certain number of touch-screen votes as well. The touch-screen systems are basically used in Wisconsin as backups for disabled voters, but could have been put into use in the event that paper ballots ran out – which did happen frequently with the higher-than-expected turnout on Election Day.
Kloppenburg has precisely the right attitude about this recount: “A recount may change the outcome of this election or it may confirm it, but when it is done, a recount will have shed necessary and appropriate light on an election that, right now, seems to so many people to be suspect.” That’s correct, and it’s a model for how to best deal with elections where questions arise. We could do this the right way by ensuring integrity in election processes from the outset, but for now, the best we can do is reverse-engineer this through the recount.