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Election Recount Information

Recount Manual

Posted in
August 27, 2018
Procedures to request and conduct a recount for an election or referendum.
Recount Manual Final (8-2018).pdf558.06 KB


Elections are often decided by a few votes. In many cases they are decided by one or two votes out of the several hundred or even several thousand votes that are cast. An election may even end in a tie vote. These circumstances encourage a candidate, typically the one who loses the election, to have all the ballots counted again to assure all legal votes are counted properly, any illegal votes are not counted, and the proper procedures for conducting the election were followed by the election officials.

The process of counting the ballots again is known as a recount. There is no automatic recount.  The procedures for requesting and conducting a recount are spelled out in the election laws. A recount is the exclusive remedy to test in court the right of a candidate to hold office based on the number of votes cast at an election.

This manual explains the statutory requirements for requesting a recount, attempts to explain ambiguity in those statutes, expands on the statutory requirements with recommended procedures for conducting a recount, and contains sample forms for use during the recount.

This information is prepared by the Wisconsin Elections Commission pursuant to the requirements of Wis. Stat. §9.01(10). If you have any questions about the recount process, please contact the Commission staff through any of the methods below:

Phone: 608-261-2028
Toll Free: 866-VOTE-WIS
Fax: 608-267-0500

Authenticity of Ballots and Responsibility for Conducting Recounts

Questions about the authenticity of ballots arose during the 2011 Supreme Court recount process due to holes in some ballot bags, gaps in their closure or issues with security tags. A hole in a ballot bag or a missing security tag is not enough evidence alone to discard the ballots inside.  The ability to put a hand into a ballot bag is not by itself evidence of fraud. 

2014 Partisan Primary Canvass -- 6th Congressional District

Candidate Unofficial Results Official Canvass Difference
Glenn Grothman 23,241 23,247 +6
Joe Leibham 23,027 23,028  +1
Duey Stroebel 15,868 15,873  +5
Tom Denow 2,115 2,117  +2
Write-In N/A 30 N/A

Grothman leads Leibham by 219 votes.

More detailed canvass documents will be posted Thursday.

2012 Recall State Senate District 21 Recount Information

State Senate D-21 Election and Recount Results

Candidate Unofficial Recount (certified)
Van H. Wanggaard 35,517  35,539
John Lehman 36,351

2011 Supreme Court Statewide Recount Information

The Government Accountability Board ordered a statewide recount, based on the Kloppenburg campaign's  request, of votes in the April 5, 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court election. The recount is now complete. The Government Accountability Board certified David T. Prosser Jr. as the winning candidate in the April 5, 2011 election for Supreme Court Justice, following a recount of ballots conducted by Boards of Canvassers in Wisconsin’s 72 counties. The Board’s certification notes that Justice Prosser received a total of 752,694 votes and that JoAnne F. Kloppenburg received 745,690 votes, a difference of 7,004 votes, or 0.46%. A total of 1,729 write-in votes were cast for other individuals.

Prior to the recount, Board staff held a teleconference for County Clerks, which is archived on Wisconsin Eye.

The Government Accountability Board, represented by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, filed a legal action in Dane County Circuit Court to establish the ground rules for Optech Eagle tabulating equipment used in the statewide recount of votes in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election.  Attorneys for the G.A.B. and the candidates reached a stipulated agreement to hand-count ballots in parts of 31 counties that use Optech Eagle scanners.

For detailed information about how recounts are conducted in Wisconsin, please consult the Election Recount Procedures Manual.

New! County-by-county page of certified recount results.


Certified 2011 Supreme Court Recount Totals

These are official recount results reported by the County Boards of Canvassers. The results have been certified and signed by the G.A.B.

County By County Spring 2011 Election and Recount.xls34 KB
Ward By Ward Spring 2011 Election and Recount.xls578.5 KB