THE first candidate-driven statewide recount of a presidential election in 16 years has begun in Wisconsin, a state that Donald Trump won by less than a percentage point over Hillary Clinton after polls long predicted a Clinton victory.The recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein carries none of the drama of the Florida presidential recount of 2000, when the outcome of the election between Al Gore and George W. Bush hung in the balance.
Almost no one expects Ms Stein’s push for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to result in a Clinton victory over Mr Trump.
“This is certainly not Bush v. Gore,” said Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator Mike Haas.
Most counties will manually recount the ballots, although Ms Stein lost a court challenge this week to force hand recounts everywhere.
The state’s largest county, Milwaukee, was planning to recount the ballots by feeding them through the same machines that counted them on election night.
In Dane County, where Mrs Clinton won 71 per cent of the vote, the ballots will be counted by hand.
Workers in Dane County were being paid $US20 an hour and will work two shifts for about 12 hours a day to get the recount done by the 8pm December 12 deadline (Midday AEDT), said County Clerk Scott McDonell. He didn’t expect much change in the results. “I think we will be very close to what was reported on election night,” Mr McDonell said.
Wisconsin election officials have less than two weeks to complete the recount.
December 13 is the federal deadline to certify the vote to avoid having the fate of Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes decided by Congress.
Even if that were to happen, the votes would almost certainly go to Mr Trump, since Republicans control both chambers of Congress.
Ms Stein has argued, without evidence, that irregularities in the votes in all three states suggest that there could have been tampering with the vote, perhaps through a well-co-ordinated, highly complex cyberattack.
Ms Stein had raised nearly $US7 million, about twice as much as her longshot presidential campaign, to pay for the recounts.
The Wisconsin recount was estimated to cost about $US3.9 million, while Stein paid $US973,250 for the recount in Michigan, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow.
Ms Stein also filed a lawsuit on Monday in Pennsylvania to force a recount there.