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Likely Statewide Recount for President of the United States- Communication #2

Posted in
Priority: 
High Priority
Date: 
November 25, 2016
To: 
Wisconsin County Clerks
To: 
Milwaukee County Election Commission
From: 
Ross Hein, Elections Supervisor
AttachmentSize
Wisconsin Recount Petition of Jill Stein (00268242x9CCC2).pdf1.69 MB
De La Fuente Petition - Notarized.pdf145.03 KB
Tokaji article re safe harbor 2008.pdf113.89 KB

As you may have seen from your email this past Wednesday, there will be a likely statewide recount for the office of President of the United States.  Today is the deadline to petition for a recount and WEC staff has received the attached recount petitions this afternoon.  There are two action items that we need each county clerk to respond to quickly, ideally before noon this Monday, November 28 at recounts@wi.gov:    1) estimated recount costs and 2) vote method for recounting the ballots
 
Estimated Recount Costs
 
A few county clerks have already provided estimated recount costs to the WEC and have provided for a range.  Although that is helpful, we are requesting for county clerks to give us what they think the costs will most likely be (not a range), based upon how you plan to conduct the recount.  WEC staff will aggregate all of these county estimates and will provide both the Stein and De La Fuente campaigns with a total cost by close of business on Monday, November 28.  As you will see in the timeline below, the recount will need to fast-tracked and completed by December 13 to comply with federal law requirements and the quick turnaround may necessitate additional tabulators and resources that should be considered in your cost estimate.  When calculating your estimated recount costs, please take into consideration the following: labor costs (including the expedited timeframe), voting equipment programing, supplies and materials, and any other factors that may impact the costs associated with conducting a recount.  
 
Vote Method for Recount
 
A somewhat recent legislative change now provides the option to the county canvass board to determine whether to conduct the recount via a hand-count or electronic voting equipment.  Wis. Stats. § 5.90 (1) provides “Unless a court orders a recount to be conducted by another method under sub. (2), the board of canvassers may determine to conduct the recount of a specific election by hand and may determine to conduct the recount by hand for only certain wards or election districts. If electronic voting machines are used, the board of canvassers shall perform the recount using the permanent paper record of the votes cast by each elector, as generated by the machines.”
 
The Stein campaign has indicated that their preferred method for conducting the recount will be by hand instead of by electronic voting equipment.  Only ballots that were tabulated by optical scan voting equipment may be recounted by voting equipment (barring a court order).  Ballots cast on touchscreen (DRE) voting equipment and ballot that were counted by hand on election night will need to be recounted by hand.  Please let WEC staff know which tabulation method you believe will be used by the county canvass board by noon this Monday, November 28 as this may factor into the decision by either campaign to seek a court order mandating a hand recount.  In discussions with Wisconsin election officials over the years, a hand-count may not be as timing consuming as one may think and avoids pre-testing of the equipment and reprogramming of memory devices.  The decision whether to tabulate by equipment or by hand is to be made by each canvass board unless a court orders otherwise, but we would like to get a sense of the method you expect to be used.
 
Timeline  
 
Under federal law, there is a “safe harbor” provision which requires any election dispute involving a presidential election to be settled within 35 days of Election Day, which is December 13, 2016 in this case.  The attached article gives some background information on this unique federal mandate, but essentially it means that we will  have an incredibly tight window to complete the audit- most likely less than two weeks from the date that the recount is ordered.  This is the proposed, tentative timeline for the audit:
 
•    Friday, November 25:  Deadline to petition for a recount.
 
•    Monday, November 28:  Cost estimates and vote tabulation method provided by county clerk to WEC by noon.  WEC provides estimated statewide costs to both the Stein and De La Fuente campaigns by close of business.
 
•    Tuesday, November 29:  Stein and/or De La Fuente campaign submits payment to WEC.  Once payment is received, the WEC will issue a recount order to all presidential candidates.
 
•    Wednesday, November 30:  WEC staff will hold a teleconference for all county clerks and canvass members to go over the recount rules and processes.  The teleconference is tentatively scheduled for 10am and will be held via webinar.  Invitation instructions will be sent out next week. A 24-hour public meeting notice is required for the recount and therefore it should also be posted by this date.
 
•    Thursday, December 1:  Recount begins in all Wisconsin Counties.  A 24-hour public meeting notice is required.
 
•    Tuesday, December 13:  Recounts must be completed under federal law.
 
 
Additional information will continue to be funneled your way as this progresses.  Given the tight timeframe, WEC will be communicating directly with county clerks by email in the coming weeks.  We apologize in advance for the numerous emails you will receive outside of the normal clerk communication protocol.  Thank you.