Now that the statewide recount in Wisconsin is officially underway, first hand reports are coming out of various recounting stations in counties across the state. Eighty-three percent of Wisconsin’s counties have opted to do hand recounts after a judge ruled that it was up to the counties to decide whether to recount by hand or by machine. And the hand recounts are already resulting in some Presidential votes now being counted that appear to have been originally missed by the counting machines.
Karen Fehlker, a Wisconsin recount observer in Dane County, has been sharing her experiences and observations directly with Palmer Report throughout the day. She informs us that the officials doing the hand recounts have already identified some ballots where voters clearly attempted to vote for President, but did so in a manner which the counting machines would have had difficulty reading. “Many people wrote Clinton’s name on the bottom, or Trump’s for that matter, and didn’t mark a circle,” she tells us, “so that counted as no vote originally.” The reason for these odd methods of picking a candidate: “The ballot confused people.”
While this does point to a number of Presidential votes in Wisconsin having been missed by the counting machines in at least one county, it doesn’t yet point to how many may have been missed statewide, or even which candidate may now benefit from the hand counting of these irregularly filled out ballots. However this does, for the first time, shed some light on numerical discrepancies which have been noted in other close swing states.
For instance we reported earlier in the week that Michigan’s official vote totals suggested there were more than than 87,000 people who cast in a vote in a downticket race but didn’t bother to cast any kind of vote for President, not even a write-in. This stood out as suspect, because Michigan had no Governor or Senate races on the ballot in 2016 to explain why so many voters would turn out for the downticket while leaving the Presidential ballot blank. And in Florida, the official vote totals point to more than 160,000 people who supposedly did the same thing.
The popular theory has been that many of these people in question had indeed voted in the Presidential race, but that the machines simply failed to count their votes in that race, even as their downticket votes were counted. And now this on-site report from Dane County’s hand recount from Karen Fehlker points to what may have really happened in those instances. The Wisconsin recount is already underway, and the Michigan recount is forthcoming, with a Pennsylvania recount still being litigated as we speak.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report