I listened in on the Government Accountability Board's conference call with all 72 County Clerks yesterday--and was shaking my head in disbelief after just a couple of minutes. The call itself took three hours--as nearly every aspect of the recount procedure was broken down. Some of the highlights?
- People coming in to witness the recount are banned from having black or blue pens or pencils. The fear there is that someone would be "adding" a few black circles to ballots. That was followed by the question from the Vilas County Clerk on how he was supposed to ensure that there are no pens or pencils in the recount room--since he wasn't going to do "TSA type strip searches". The answer from the GAB--just be on the lookout for pencils and pens being used.
- Clerks are expected to work through the weekends to meet the May 9th Constitutional deadline. That led to the question from the Green County Clerk as to what the punishment would be if he didn't work over the weekend. Apparently, folks have already made some plans--and no State Statute is going to keep them locked up in a room counting ballots on a Saturday. The answer from the GAB--we really recommend you work on the weekends.
- How far away from recount workers do non-attorney observers need to be kept? Several clerks had this question as they planned to work in tight quarters. Obviously, security of the ballots calls for as few people to have access to them as possible--but the law also says anyone who wants to witness the recount must be given access (provided they don't have blue or black pens or any pencils on them). GAB answer--make sure there is proper space provided a safe distance away from the recount tables.
- And then my favorite: Wisconsin Dells lies in four counties. The Dells apparently uses a ballot counting machine that three of those counties do not own themselves. So the question was: could the few ballots cast in those wards just be counted by hand (there were eight in one ward and 12 in the other)? Answer from the GAB--NO, the ballots must be counted the same way they were on election night. That means someone will have to bring in this counting machine to four different county seats--then train the four Clerks on how to use it--just to count eight ballots.