Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recounts Shed Light on Elections Process

In light of this afternoon’s request by the Kloppenburg campaign for a recount in the Supreme Court election, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin affirms the right of candidates to pursue recounts as state law allows. The ACLU traditionally does not call for or participate in recounts. However we believe that recounts can shed welcome light on the electoral process and give Wisconsin voters confidence in the results of elections and municipal procedures.

“Wisconsin should be proud of how we conduct elections,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Christopher Ahmuty. “Our state election officials have emphasized transparency and consistency in election procedures. They have the experience in conducting recounts in close elections on the local level and we expect they will ensure that any recount is conducted properly.”

Unfortunately irregularities in reporting occurred in Waukesha County and led to inquiries by the Government Accountability Board. After an investigation, the GAB reported that they were satisfied that the final vote totals matched the vote totals reported by the municipalities. The GAB looked at vote totals from the county since 2006 and is planning to release a more comprehensive report on what happened in Waukesha County.

“Waukesha County’s reporting system appears to have been flawed,” said Ahmuty. “That system has lead voters across the state to mistrust the accuracy of the results. The reporting controversy in Waukesha County clearly illustrates the importance of having transparent and accountable election procedures. The ACLU of Wisconsin looks forward to the GAB’s final report and we hope municipalities across the state will review their reporting rules to prevent reoccurrences of the events that marred the reporting in Waukesha.”

The Government Accountability Board said today that they are prepared to move forward with the recount. The recount procedures manual is available online. While critics of the call for a recount say that the race wasn't close enough to merit a recount and that the action would be frivolous, the recount is within the legal guidelines (a margin within one half of one percent) and is the right of candidates to request one.

For an explanation of how a recount works, Attorney Rebecca Mason gives Wisconsin Bar blog readers a quick rundown of the state statutes. Mason outlines what happens in a recount, why a recount is the first needed step before court action, the difference between the Election Day preliminary results and the day-after’s canvass in each county and how it is up to the campaigns during the recount to collect evidence of voting irregularities for court action.