Presidential recount has been ordered, this is how it works

By: - November 19, 2020 2:43 pm
No one has to touch the ballot scanner to insert their ballot. And there were only several voters present around 9:30 am on 4/7/20

Madison ballot scanner 4/7/20

On Thursday morning, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) officially ordered a recount of ballots cast in the presidential election in Dane and Milwaukee counties. 

After the order was sent, the two counties could begin the re-tallying. Each has until 9 a.m. on Saturday to begin the process and the recount must be finished in 13 days, by Dec. 1. 

The board of canvassers in each county is responsible for the administration of the recount. The recount process is a public meeting, open and available to the public. 

Milwaukee County will use machines to recount all its ballots while Dane County will use a combination of hand and machine counts depending on which ward the ballot is from. The boards of canvassers will literally count each ballot again and make sure the paper trail is accurate with every ballot having a proper signature, identification and, in the case of absentee ballots, a request. 

Both presidential campaigns will be able to have representatives at the recount locations monitoring the process and capable of making objections to any decisions. Each campaign will have one representative responsible for lodging objections and working with the boards of canvass to determine the proper procedure was followed when the ballot was cast and counted. 

Notably, any challenges brought by campaign representatives must also come with evidence of an issue. 

Other observers are able to attend the recount but won’t have the same access as each campaign’s primary representatives. In some cases, secondary representatives will be able to monitor the process but must first bring objections to the primary observer. 

At the recount location, each municipality within the two counties and each voting ward within each municipality is recounted separately. Tabulators will work to check — for the third time — the poll lists, absentee ballots and related materials, ballot count, number of voters and the final count. 

After the recount, if a campaign still has problems with the process, an appeal can be filed in circuit court. 

WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe, in a virtual press conference Thursday, continued to express confidence in Wisconsin’s elections systems. 

“I think I speak for our election administrators when I say that we look forward to again demonstrating the strength, security, integrity, and transparency of our election systems in Wisconsin,” Wolfe said. “We did so through the municipal board of canvas, where we saw very little if any changes. We did so, through the county board of canvas, where we didn’t see any significant changes. And we’ll do so again with the recount, and then we’ll do so again with the post election voting equipment audit.”


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.