County makes progress on presidential recount

Clerk sees little change from election night numbers

By Gail Peckler-Dziki

This is not Kenosha County Clerk Mary Schuch-Krebs’ first rodeo.

“The first year I was in office we had the state Supreme Court recount for JoAnne Kloppenburg and David Prosser,” she said.

In that recount, the margin was close enough that the state paid for it. This current recount is a different story.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who had to come up with a $1.1 million filing fee, sparked the recount.

Schuch-Krebs estimates the cost to Kenosha County to be over $178,000. And that’s just one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.

Stein met the 4:30 p.m. deadline on Nov. 29 and paid nearly $3.5 million for the recount.

According to information from Milwaukee television station WISN, the Wisconsin Election Commission estimates the actual cost will be over $3.8 million, making the $3.5 million a down payment.

Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn is hearing a lawsuit from the Stein campaign demanding that the Wisconsin recount be a hand count after the WEC denied her request.

But, Kenosha plans to hold a hand recount anyway.

Kenosha County Chief Deputy Clerk Edie Lamothe states a hand recount aims to avoid any concerns.

“Mary (Schuch-Krebs) wants to do it this way to avoid any issues,” said Lamothe.

The cost estimates cover 24-hour security, transfer of the ballots from the clerk’s office to a room at the Kenosha County Job Center, located on Sheridan Road, meals for tabulators and any costs associated with using the room.

Schuch-Krebs said the locks would be rekeyed so she will have the only key.

“Every time we have had a recount,” she said, “the machines were never off, but hand counted ballots were.”

Schuch-Krebs has worked out a method of hand recounting to make human error much less likely.

“We will have the books reconciled,” she said, “We will have a team that separates ballots according to candidate.”

Once that is finished, another team will come to recheck and make sure the candidate ballots are in the correct pile. Then the actual counting will begin.

When asked if she saw anything that raised concerns with the results on election night, Schuch-Krebs said no.

“I didn’t see any discrepancies. The new touch-screen machines are actually touch screen printers and all ballots go through the optical scan machine.”

Schuch-Krebs explained that once the voting concludes, results are modemed wirelessly onto the county server.

“It is like sending a text message. The server receiving those numbers is not connected to any other server,” she said. “That server is not hooked up to anything else on the Internet.”

As of Nov. 29, the county was still setting up for a recount. Schuch-Krebs estimated that she would need 30 tabulators to accomplish the task. The deadline is Dec. 12.

“We already have all the ballots and totals tapes,” she said. “The municipal clerks are required by law to turn it all over the county the day after the election.”

As of Monday evening, Schuch-Krebs reported all municipalities west of Interstate 94 are finished.

“We are finished with the west end municipalities and Somers and Pleasant Prairie. We started on the City of Kenosha yesterday afternoon and are working our way through their wards. I believe we have approximately a little over 40,000 ballots counted at this time so we are a little more than half way through,” she said.

“We have had very few changes in the counts from election night of the 40 wards and combined wards we have completed. We have had only 12 that have changed by one or two votes, except for Evan McMullin who was a registered write-in and his votes had to be hand counted on election night by the poll workers. We have seen multiple changes in his totals throughout the county and the city.”