The Wisconsin recount is underway, and state officials are now in the process of reviewing all 2.98 million ballots cast in the state. It’s all thanks to Jill Stein and Rocky de la Fuente, both of whom petitioned for and funded the initiative, but because of a judge’s ruling earlier in the week, the Wisconsin recount won’t be conducted by hand, as Stein had requested. While this will result in a quicker recount, it won’t alleviate concerns that mechanical errors may have mistabulated the votes on Election Day.
Instead, election officials from each Wisconsin county will get to decide how to recount the ballots in their jurisdiction. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, 56 of the state’s 72 counties say that they’ll conduct either some or all of their recounts by hand, while others will rely entirely on machines to tally up the presidential ballots.
Under state law, the recount must be finished by Dec. 13. This is a tall order, given how many ballots need to be counted. Over 100 part-time workers have been hired in northeastern Wisconsin alone to help with the effort, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and some of them will be required to work 10-hour days to meet the deadline.
While Stein is surely disappointed that the recount won’t be conducted by hand, that probably isn’t going to make much of a difference, simply because of how unlikely it is that the recount will end up changing the results of the election. Stein has also filed for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania; if those recounts all go forward, and if all three of them end up reversing the results of their Election Day returns, then Hillary Clinton will become president.
But the odds of that happening are slim-to-none: Donald Trump won all three states, collectively, by around 75,000 votes. The largest swing in any single statewide recount of the last 15 years happened in 2000, when the recount in Florida gave Al Gore an additional 1,247 additional votes. In Pennsylvania alone, Trump leads by roughly 46,000 ballots.
Stein and de la Fuente’s recount faces an additional hurdle: In Michigan, Trump’s team has challenged the recount effort in court, which could either halt it entirely or, at the very least, delay it by two days. But time is of the essence in Michigan, where the recount must be completed by Dec. 13. In a dark bit of irony, Trump’s team argued in its lawsuit that the recount should be halted because it won’t be finished in time — even though it’s the lawsuit itself that’s responsible for delaying the start of the recount.
Clinton supporters shouldn’t get their hopes up, because these recounts probably won’t flip the results of the election. Then again, crazier things have happened in 2016.