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Our Views: Recount results shock (almost) nobody

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Gazette Editorial Board
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Conspiracy theorists hit another dead end this week with Wisconsin's recount confirming President-elect Donald Trump won the state.

Trump not only won Wisconsin, he expanded his lead by 131 votes. So much for the Russians tampering with election machines. While a judge did not require hand counting, many counties opted for hand counts. Most rational observers knew these counts would confirm the election's results, but it was reassuring nonetheless to learn how well the system works.

In Rock County, all eyes were on Clerk Lisa Tollefson, who faced some undeserved criticism for declining to conduct a hand count. She ran a transparent operation, and her crew never hesitated to examine questionable ballots. It's worth noting that a state-required spot check in the town of Beloit involved a hand count, and those results matched the machine count.

Oddly enough, the biggest shift in Rock County's results came from a write-in candidate, Evan McMullin, whose total increased from 99 to 168 votes. Tollefson attributed the mistake to human error and said she would revisit the issue as part of training poll workers.

Clerks work hard to minimize human error, but a small amount happens in every election and rarely affects the outcome. The take-home message from this recount is that Wisconsin's election system, far from being rigged, is practically fraud proof. If Democrats continue to lose sleep at night, it won't be out of concern for the integrity of Wisconsin's election system. It will be over their own party's failure to connect with Wisconsin voters.

The recount exposed many liberals as sore losers and complicit in manufacturing fake news about the electoral process.

The Green Party's Jill Stein, who asked and is paying for Wisconsin's recount, circulated conspiracy theories about why Wisconsin went to Trump, mainly centering on Russians somehow hacking the election results. She mixed half-truths about Russian meddling in the presidential race with the bogus notion that Wisconsin's voting machines were vulnerable to a foreign attack.

The fact-checking outfit PolitiFact has been in high gear during the recount, extinguishing some of Stein's most absurd allegations. It gave Stein a “pants on fire” rating for her claim that Wisconsin uses “outlawed” voting machines.

PolitiFact also found false another allegation fluttering in Twitter land, “Trump won Wisconsin by 27,000 votes. 300,000 voters were turned away by the state's strict Voter ID law. There is your 'rigged' election.'” Voter turnout declined, especially in some liberal bastions such as Milwaukee, but only by about 93,000 votes, a 3 percent decline from 2012. More important, there is no proof voters were turned away at the polls because of the voter ID law.

Trump supporters decried the recount and said Stein's recount request was frivolous. But in the end, the recount exposed liberal conspiracies for what they were—wild fantasies, and served to further legitimize Trump's claim to the Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes and, ultimately, the presidency.

 



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