Millions of ballots organized before clerks get 12 days to count them

Millions of ballots organized before clerks get 12 days to count them

MADISON, Wis. - Millions of ballots are being moved and sorted in Wisconsin ahead of a massive statewide recount.

The effort, spurred by a request of Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, is scheduled to begin Thursday morning in counties across the state. It will then last for 12 days, with clerks needing to be done by 8 p.m. on Dec. 12.

Some 309,000 ballots in Dane County were delivered to two rooms on the third floor of the City-County Building Wednesday in preparation for the 8:30 a.m. start time.

County Clerk Scott McDonell said he'll have more than 40 tabulators working on each shift and that they'll work 14 hours a day.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission held a webinar to discuss the recount process and answer questions Wednesday morning.

"We know this is a lot of work that has to be done in a short period of time," WEC administrator Mike Haas said. "I think hopefully by now everyone has taken the mental leap that we are ready to move forward and conduct this recount as promptly and accurately and professionally as possible."

Statewide, local election officials will decide Thursday morning whether to count ballots by hand or machine after a Dane County judge did not mandate a hand recount. So far only 19 of 72 counties have indicated they'll use machines as part of their recount process. Commission staff members also told clerks that they could switch to using machines if their recount process begins running behind schedule.

McDonell said his tabulators will count ballots by hand, but he's confident the results will be similar to Election Day.

"There are some people who will never be convinced. You can tell them anything and they'll have another reason why," McDonell said. "Hopefully the 99 percent will say there were accusations of hacks and fraud but when they went through ballot by ballot it is not true."

The estimated cost of the recount is just under $4 million and will be paid for by Stein. Elections officials said her campaign submitted payment at 4:26 p.m. on Tuesday, four minutes before the deadline.

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