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Wisconsin Officials Work On Timetable For Presidential Election Recount

Darren Hauck/Getty Images
Voters cast their ballot in the national election at Cannon Pavilion on November 8, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is holding an emergency phone conference on Monday to establish plans for the state to move forward with a recount of the state's vote tally in this month's presidential election. This will be the state's first presidential recount.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested the recount last Friday. She also is expected to ask for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stein says the recounts will ensure that the results were not hacked.

The vote differentials between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in all three states were very thin. In Wisconsin, Trump won 1,404,000 votes, according to the state's unofficial results. Clinton won 1,381,823 votes. Stein captured about 31,000 votes.

Stein's petition cites several reasons for wanting a recount. For instance, Stein says there have been reports of irregularities in the counting and return of votes cast for president, and that foreign operators have breached voter databases in other states. So she says she wants to make sure hackers did not skew the results in swing states, such as Wisconsin.

Stein's camp wants a hand recount of ballots. But in Monday's meeting, the Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously rejected the request. In return, Stein released a statement saying that she will ask a Dane County judge to order clerks to recount ballots by hand.

Instead, the commission decided to let local election clerks choose the method they'll use for the recount. Wisconsin faces a federal deadline of Dec. 13 to turn in its final presidential election tally. That means elections staff will have to recount nearly 3 million votes in about two weeks. Workers will have to examine each ballot to determine the voter’s intent.

The recount could begin this Thursday. Jill Stein's camp will have to cover the costs. The state is still totaling the cost, which is expected to be in the seven figures. The process will be open, meaning the public can watch and each candidate can have representatives present to raise objections. If anyone disagrees with the results, they have five days to take the matter to circuit court.

What makes the process perhaps even more interesting in Wisconsin is the fact that the state has the most decentralized election system in the country. So 72 different county clerks and more than 1,800 municipal clerks have to decide how things are done in their locales and which ballots count. The state agency is telling everyone involved to plan to work long hours to get the job done in time.

Over the weekend, the Trump and Clinton camps responded to Stein's call for a recount in Wisconsin. Clinton's campaign formally joined the effort. Her team said that although there is no evidence that voter results were hacked here or that voting machines were compromised, the team will monitor the process to ensure that it proceeds in a fair manner.

Meanwhile, Trump pounced on the Clinton campaign, saying its involvement in any recounts is "sad" and will change nothing. Trump also re-tweeted statements Clinton had made during the campaign that the loser had to accept the results of the election – like them or not -- so as not to threaten America's democracy.

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