Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser inched two votes forward and his opponent, two votes back in the first day of recounting ballots in La Crosse County on Wednesday. That's minuscule, considering that officials, volunteers, and machines are recounting 1.5 million ballots in the contentious race between Prosser and his challenger, Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. But only the third recount in Badger State history had to start somewhere.
|The 7,316-vote gap between Justice David Prosser and challenger Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg reflects the contentiousness reflected in this appearance before the election. (AP Photo)
The April 5 election, considered a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's controversial moves to curb collective bargaining for public employees, ended with Kloppenburg trailing by 7,316 votes. She requested the first recount in the Badger State since 1989, when the tallying was to decide a referendum rather than a race between two candidates. The only other recount between two politicians occurred in 1858, according to the La Crosse Tribune
La Crosse is one of 31 counties using the tedious hand-counting process; the rest of the state's 72 counties are using machines, under a deal the Prosser and Kloppenburg camps struck at a judge's behest last week. The statewide cost of the recount could be more than half a million dollars, according to an Associated Press estimate.
La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer told the Tribune it may cost her county about $5,000 and require workers to stay through the weekend to be able to wrap up the tally by the May 9 deadline.
During the counting Wednesday, Prosser gained four votes discovered on poorly marked ballots, but he and Kloppenburg lost two each because of missing signatures on absentee ballot envelopes.
Security is so tight in the counting room that only red pens are allowed, and purses, coats, and briefcases are banned.
At the end of the day, the La Crosse County Canvassing Board had plowed through 4,787 ballots. Just 24,731 to go.
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