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Recount Questions and Answers

Changing the method used to recount ballots once the recount has begun August 21, 2014 - 3:54pm

QUESTION:  Can a recount canvass board decide to change the method used to recount ballots once the recount has begun?

ANSWER:  Wis. Stat. § 5.90(1) permits the recount canvass board to choose the method of recounting the ballots cast at the election.  They may use automatic tabulating equipment or choose to hand count ballots.  While the recount canvass board may choose to use one method for tallying certain wards or reporting units and use another method for others, it is the G.A.B.’s opinion that a recount canvass board should not switch its counting method for a ward or reporting unit after having started the count for that ward or unit.

Retention of Election Materials May 3, 2011 - 10:09am

QUESTION:  How long must we retain the election materials from both the Spring Election and Statewide Recount?
ANSWER:   Please make sure that all election materials from both the Spring Election and Boards of Canvassers are maintained in the original format.  Do not send any of your electronic voting equipment memory devices to the manufacturers / programmers until after the time period for appeals to the circuit court has passed.  With potential litigation, the election materials may be necessary for any court action.  The G.A.B. will provide notification to all county clerks when both the spring election and recount materials may be addressed per § 7.23 Wis. Stats.

Meeting on Weekends April 28, 2011 - 4:36pm

QUESTION:  Is the Board of Canvassers required to meet during the weekend?

ANSWER:  The Statutes permit the Board to adjourn for not more than one day at a time.  However, if your Board is confident that it will complete the recount by Friday, May 6, 2011, it can choose to adjourn for both days of this weekend, April 30 and May 1.  The deadline for completing the recount is Monday, May 9, 2011.

How to report total ballots cast April 28, 2011 - 10:05am

QUESTION:    When reporting the number of reporting units completed by the Board of Canvassers, how is the "total ballots cast" figure determined?

ANSWER:    The total number of ballots cast should be included as part of the recount minutes compared to the number of voter numbers issued.  To determine the total number of ballots cast, you will need to include all ballots that were issued, including votes for candidates, scattering, and any overvote or undervote (for purposes of the statewide recount, an undervote can also be considered a blank ballot as you are only reviewing that one office).

Ballots not properly initialed April 28, 2011 - 10:03am

QUESTION:  If ballots were not properly initialed, what should the Board of Canvass do?

ANSWER:  Ballots shall not be rejected solely because they are not properly initialed.  If ballots are not properly initialed the Board of Canvassers makes a notation in the minutes. If there are more ballots than voters, then the Board of Canvassers follows the reconciliation procedure set out in §9.01 (1)(b)4.  If a Board of Canvassers has rejected ballots because the ballots were not properly initialed, but there were not more ballots than voters, the Board of Canvassers must correct this error


Process for Ballots Set Aside April 27, 2011 - 3:52pm

QUESTION:  For optical scan ballots that are will be tabulated by electronic voting equipment (Optech Eagle excluded) what are the processes for ballots that are set aside?

   Ballots that are set aside would include ballots that may not be recorded correctly by the tabulator or are objected to by the candidate representative.  These ballots would be marked as exhibits and documented in the minutes.  Ballots that contain an undervote or overvote for the office of Supreme Court should also be set aside.  You may note the number of overvotes/undervotes for each reporting unit in your minutes, but are not required to do so.  Ballots that are set aside because the voter did not complete the arrow or oval completely or marked an "X" (situation where the tabulator may not record the ballot properly) will be counted by hand and should be noted in the minutes and marked as an exhibit.

Answer modified April 28.

Military Voters April 27, 2011 - 12:45pm

QUESTION:  Were military voters provided an extension for the Spring Election?
ANSWER: No, State law only provides an extension for military voters during the Partisan Primary and General Election, so there was no extension for the receipt of ballots cast by military voters in the Spring Election.  Also, because there was no federal office on the ballot, the provisions of the Military Overseas Voter Empowerment Act do not apply.

What to Do if Test Ballots Were Shredded April 27, 2011 - 10:00am

QUESTION:    The test ballots that were used for the spring election public test were shredded, what do we need to do?

ANSWER:    You will need to contact your ballot printer immediately and have additional ballots printed to be used for the testing of electronic voting equipment.  All electronic voting systems are required to be tested for each reporting unit to be tabulated by that system.

Recounting DRE (Touchscreen) Ballots April 27, 2011 - 9:59am

QUESTION:   Are all ballots recorded on the DRE required to separate individual voter records by cutting the paper record?

ANSWER:    Although the recommended procedure is to separate individual voter records by cutting the paper record, in response to the concerns received at the teleconference by many of the county clerks, the G.A.B. has determined the Boards of Canvassers may retain the voter verified paper record in its original format.  Canvass Board Members shall take all appropriate precautions to ensure confidentiality of individual electors’ votes.  This includes limiting access to the poll list at the time reconciliation of the ballots is completed to prevent determination of individual votes.

Using Ballot Bins April 27, 2011 - 9:59am

QUESTION:    Are ballot bins used with electronic voting equipment required to be utilized during the recount proceedings?

ANSWER:    Although the G.A.B. recommends following the same processes used at the polling place on election day for electronic voting equipment, ballot bins are not required to be used.  The G.A.B. requires Boards of Canvassers to use detailed procedures to ensure ballots are processed in an organized and secured fashion.  After ballots are processed, they shall immediately be placed in a secured receptacle.

Correct email address for Attorney Jim Troupis April 27, 2011 - 9:50am

QUESTION:  What is the correct email address for Attorney Jim Troupis?

ANSWER:  Recount Update #8 sent to county clerks on April 26, 2011 contained an error for the email address of Attorney Jim Troupis, one of the attorneys representing the Prosser campaign.  The correct email address for is  We apologize for the error.

Cell phones in Recount Room April 26, 2011 - 1:34pm

BACKGROUND:  Your instructions include a list of prohibited items from entering the Recount Room.

  What is your position on the presence and use of cell phones?

ANSWER:  Cell phones should be in vibrate mode. The public, candidate representatives and assistants can leave the area to take a call.

Photographing ballots April 26, 2011 - 1:32pm

BACKGROUND:  We know that the candidates’ representative will photograph objected to ballots.

QUESTION:  Is the press also allowed to film close ups of these ballots?

ANSWER:  The press may do a close up of a ballot during the limited period of roaming.  It is not anticipated that the press will be close enough to see and film what the candidate representatives are examining before the Board of Canvassers.

Media access to recount area April 26, 2011 - 1:30pm

BACKGROUND: We expect a significant amount of press coverage at the Recount.  The intention is to confine the press cameras to a specific area to limit distraction. 

QUESTION:  Do you see a problem with allowing the press a specific time to “rove” the room to collect stock footage?

ANSWER:  We see no problem allowing the press to roam in the recount area for a limited period of time to collect stock footage as long as it is not disruptive.

Certificate envelope issues April 26, 2011 - 1:22pm

BACKGROUND:  During the conference yesterday, there was an absentee ballot certificate question where the clerk accepted the absentee ballot certificate as sufficient even though it was not signed by a witness.  If during the recount, an insufficient absentee ballot certificate is encountered, where the ballot was not rejected at the polling place, the Board of Canvassers would randomly remove one absentee ballot from the pool of voted absentee ballots. (Page 9 of instructions)
The ballot would be marked as an “Exhibit 1a” and consequently not be counted.  The absentee ballot certificate envelop would be marked “Exhibit 1b”.  This ballot would be bundled with all the ballots marked as “Exhibits” and returned to the ballot bag at the end of the procedures.

QUESTION:  Should the certificate envelop be placed in the rejected absentee ballot envelop or should it be attached to the rejected ballot?

ANSWER:  The certificate envelope and the ballot should be attached together.  The ballot was drawn down because of the defective envelope.  All exhibits should be secured together by reporting unit in a separate container for easy access in the case of court review.  The rejected ballot envelope and drawn down ballot should not be returned to the ballot bag.