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Potential recount would cost local governments money, manpower

By   /   April 14, 2011  /   17 Comments

By Kevin Lee     Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON  —  As election canvassers in Milwaukee County continue to tabulate the results from the April 5 state Supreme Court race, the question still looms — will there be a recount?

Milwaukee County is the last of the state’s 72 counties to submit its vote totals to the state government.

Once Milwaukee County submits its canvassed results to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, the candidates — incumbent Justice David Prosser and assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg — will have three days to decide whether to petition for a recount.

Submitted results from 71 counties show Prosser leading Kloppenburg by a vote of 652,891-615,970, a difference of 37,011 votes.

Prosser’s lead would be reduced to 7,300 when adding Milwaukee County’s vote total as reported by the Associated Press on election night. Milwaukee County is expected to favor Kloppenburg.

In a pre-emptive effort, the Prosser campaign is using the voting margin and potential expenses to discourage his opponent.

“With the results of last Tuesday’s election nearing final certification, the outcome is close to a reality,” said Brian J. Nemoir, a spokesman for the Prosser Recount Team. “Justice Prosser’s margin of victory — 19 times more than the historical gain in statewide recounts — is perhaps the strongest case for avoiding the financial burden a recount would place upon taxpayers.”

When asked whether the Kloppenburg campaign would seek a recount, spokeswoman Melissa Mulliken said, “The process is ongoing,” referring to Milwaukee County’s canvassing of votes.

David Schultz, an election law professor at Hamline University in Minnesota, said even statewide recounts typically result in changes of a just few hundred votes at most.

“Election day is the first draft, and then the canvassing boards meet to confirm those results,” he said. “I don’t expect too many differences.”

The 7,300 vote margin between the candidates would represent a 0.48 percent difference. According to state law, a candidate who petitions for recount would have administrative fees waived if the vote margin between the candidates is less than 0.5 percent.

That means county governments, which collect election results for state and federal elections from cities, towns and villages, would have to bear the brunt of the costs of a recount.

A candidate may opt for a statewide recount or may pick and choose particular counties, cities or precincts.

The website MediaTracker.org, reported Thursday that the head of Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, Kevin Kennedy, said the cost of a statewide recount will be $1-million-plus.

“… Recounts usually don’t make a difference,” Kennedy told the MediaTracker.

Milwaukee County Elections Deputy Administrator Suzette Emmer said a countywide recount could cost Milwaukee County $500,000 because of programming costs for voting machines and reimbursement to municipal clerks for their assistance.

Milton City Clerk Nancy Zastrow, a former Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association president, said county election officials will rely on internal staff and their boards of canvassers during a recount, with additional help coming from local election officials.

In a November 2010 report, the Pew Center for the States indicated that statewide recount efforts in Minnesota and Washington state cost an average of 15-cents to 30-cents per ballot.

Using those figures, a full statewide recount effort for the Wisconsin Supreme Court race would cost between $225,000 to $450,000 for local governments.

Schultz pointed out that Minnesota has been home to two recent recount efforts. In the November 2010 election, Mark Dayton of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party edged out Republican Tom Emmer in the race to replace Tim Pawlenty as Minnesota governor.

A recount showed Dayton’s winning margin slip by 95 votes, but he still maintained a 8,675 vote difference, or a margin of victory of 0.4 percent.

The 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota between incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken, featured one of the most contentious recount efforts in recent history. The recount effort lasted almost eight months.

Out of 2.9 million ballots cast, canvassed election results showed Coleman holding a 215 vote lead, a difference of 0.0089 percent.

A recount that incorporated challenged ballots and almost 1,000 incorrectly rejected absentee ballots gave challenger Franken the lead in the election. After a legal challenge from Coleman, a Minnesota court upheld the recount findings and certified Franken the winner by a margin of 312 votes, a 0.01 percent difference.

Franken took the oath of office in July 2009 following the November 2008 election.


  • Jeff Szulczewski

    All I have to say is there are a lot of Morons in MN for voting Stuart Smalley into office.

    When they start beheading folks in public as Sharia law spreads through their state, maybe then they will wake up.

  • Guest

    Can someone please tell me why the vote difference is 37,011 rather than 36,921 which is what you get if you subtract 615,970 from 652,891. There is a difference of 90 votes. That said I am glad Justice Prosser still leads but I am just curious about the math.

  • Good. Then maybe next time they’ll get it right….

  • mark schoening

    Seems it is all hanging on Milw county- will be difficult to manufacture votes with the eyes of the country watching you. Could possibly be a fair election. What a concept !

  • Shane Johnston

    They are getting it right. These mistakes are always made but never made so public because the race is usually not this close. In the end; the Wisconsin people have spoken again that they will not be pushed around by the unions.

    Walker is doing what he was hired to do, balance the budget without putting all the burden on the tax payers.

  • Mary

    And Al Franken is such an impressive senator…NOT!

    Prosser won, deal with it! Don’t add another million to the states deficit for a silly recall that will just declare Prosser the winner.

    The liberals and union thugs are dragging their feet to stall the signing of the budget repair bill as long as they can. Now they want to recall VanHollen? I say recall Judge Abramson! She’s stalling too. Let’s recall everyone!! …that way NOTHING will be accomplished! What is this country becoming? It’s horrifying. What’s next……gun battles between the right and left…is this what the left wants because they can’t get their way?! Whatever happened to “sportmanship” we all were supposed to learn in school? Guess teachers forgot to teach that one becasue they are too busy bad mouthing elected officials and I guess some parents just don’t understand the concept either.

  • James Chiappetta

    Kloppenburg should save the taxes payers money and pack it in. She was way to early to declare victory. Now she has to eat her words.

  • Fran

    What bothers me more than the sudden discrepancy is the history of screw-ups by Nicklous. First she must be thoroughly investigated. People with extra-ordinary computer skills can taint anything they want with impunity! Why did she even use a computer that no one else had access to for state/county/city business? That alone smells. She has had a history of discrepancy – the same as Walker did in Milwaukee – and we just sit back without investigating how she suddenly had just the right amount of uncounted votes??? Did she hold those back so she could verify on her own that Prosser had the correct amount of votes before she ‘officially’ submitted them? She obviously can not be trusted. 1) INVESTIGATE; 2) BAR HER FROM ALL PUBLIC OFFICES HENCEFORTH. She has shown she can not be trusted with anything of importance. She is too ‘cool’ when questioned. If this were truely an error she would be much more apologetic and willing to help uncover all the facts.

  • John

    Sounds to me like they got it right a few days after the polls closed.

    Why does it take Milwaukee so long to do what other counties can do within a few days? Do they only have four eighty-year-old ladies doing the canvassing? We all know that Milwaukee is a liberal (very liberal) city. Hence, those who are in these positions of poll administration are appointed by the liberal establishment. This is an excellent example of liberal efficiency… uh, there is none.

  • John

    That’s a new one… “She is too ‘cool’ when questioned.” Damn her! If only she would have acted ‘less cool’ or even ‘guilty,’ eh?

    Keep on drinking the Kook Aide, Fran.

  • Kathleen Schofield

    I’m sorry but if there were 4 80 year old ladies it would probably be completed by now.

    And it would be correct.

  • bea


    Did you not see the well known female DEMOCRAT standing at her side while making the announcement that it was “HUMAN ERROR”… and which Nicolaus openly and apologetically admitted to making?

    ….the votes were counted by the community and then sent to her… but SHE MADE A MISTAKE by NOT ADDING in Brookfield’s votes when she sent in the Waukesha amounts for certification…

    and for which that DEMOCRAT lady originally agreed was simply “an oversight” !

    have you never made a HUMAN ERROR? and ARE YOU ANGRY because you were celebrating a liberal victory only to find out that you celebrated TOO SOON?? seems to me that was even the LIBERAL media’s statement directly to Kloopenburg “DO NOT DECLARE VICTORY UNTIL ALL VOTES WERE FINALIZED?” She “jumped on the bandwagon” too soon… did she not?

  • Fritz

    Kloopenburg will do exactly what her puppeteers tell her to do as I expect that she would do if she made it to the top court. We know that wasting tax money is not a problem for these people so a call for a recount would not supprise me.

  • arne Lagus

    plese put me on your distribution list for future issues , thanks

  • Georgianne Dickau

    I ask you, anyone right or left, is Kloppenburg the kind of Supreme Court Justice you honestly want? A Justice who rushes to a decision before all the information is in causing public embarrassment and sending the Wisconsin tax payers a million dollar bill to underline her incompetence? All this because you lost 1 election(and now 2). What about this kind of outlandish tantrum should let the people of Wisconsin think the democrats in this State are fair minded and willing to work with everyone? I guess their will to work with everyone as long as your opinions the same as theirs .

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  • M.E.

    “outlandish tantrum” – “fair minded” – “will to work with everyone as long as your opinions the same as theirs.”

    One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others. ~Moliere