As Rock, Walworth counties begin recount, ‘It’s a sacrifice we make for democracy’
WCLO's / WJVL's Steve Benton reports on the start of the Rock County recount of ballots in the Supreme Court race
JANESVILLE After watching more than an hour of Rock County’s recount in the Supreme Court justice race, Tom Walterman knew he was in for a long day.
There was counting, verifying totals, counting, checking names, more counting. A volunteer’s work isn’t difficult, but it’s the nature of the job that had Walterman worried.
“I can’t say I’m looking forward to it,” Walterman said with a laugh. “It’s a sacrifice we make for democracy.”
Walterman and his wife, Marilyn, were among several volunteers Wednesday who joined in recounting Rock County’s ballots in the race between JoAnne Kloppenburg and state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser.
Prosser leads the challenger by 7,316 votes after Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus reported 14,000 additional votes two days after the spring election. Wisconsin’s 72 counties Wednesday began their recounts, which are expected to last into the weekend for some counties.
Volunteers in Rock County sat through an hour-long training session before tabulating ballots or comparing poll books. Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler gave instructions and answered questions from observers from Prosser’s and Kloppenburg’s camps, who stood by and closely monitored the process.
Kloppenburg had twice as many observers in Rock County as Prosser—a stark contrast to Walworth County, where Prosser’s team of six outnumbered even the volunteer tabulators.
Marilyn Walterman got involved in the recount as a member of the League of Women Voters, she said. Both she and Tom were impressed with the detail and regulation.
Observers were not permitted to bring black or blue pens or carry bags or purses into the recount room. Food and drink were prohibited.
“What was impressive is all the layers they have to make sure everything is on the up and up,” Tom Walterman said. “You have to be a pretty artful dodger to be able to run any kind of scam in this operation.”
Stottler said the county will recount about 37,000 ballots, meaning the process will drag on much longer than in Walworth County, where more than 23,000 ballots are under review.
Counties are responsible for costs associated with the recount, which mostly includes staff. Stottler said Rock County’s expenses could be in the thousands, and Walworth County Clerk Kim Bushey did not give an estimate.
No significant problems were reported in either county Wednesday. The recount will begin again at 9 a.m. today and continue each day until all the ballots are counted.