Joe Biden got an additional vote from a Rock County town on Monday as the Rock County Board of Canvassers went through the painstaking process of verifying the Nov. 3 vote.
The vote came from a provisional ballot, which is a ballot cast even though the voter did not bring proper documentation to the polls, in this case a photo ID.
The voter had until Friday to show up at the town clerk’s office with a photo ID, which is what happened, so that person’s votes were counted.
The Gazette is not revealing which town the provisional vote came from because someone who was in the polling place might be able to figure out who that voter was.
Countywide, 19 provisional votes were cast, 16 of them in Janesville and Beloit. Final tallies of all the votes probably will be posted on the county website sometime today, County Clerk Lisa Tollefson said.
Tollefson also must enter any changes into a statewide elections database.
Those results will include any changes to the Blackhawk Technical College referendum but not the school district referendums, which are canvassed at the district level, Tollefson said.
The big question on everyone’s mind is about the probable call for a recount from President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. Trump’s challenge cannot be made until all counties finish canvassing.
Rock County was expected to complete its canvass Monday, but all counties are unlikely to finish until the deadline, Nov. 17.
Then the Trump campaign has one day to call for a recount. Biden won the state by the unofficial tally of less than 21,000 out of nearly 3.3 million ballots counted. That margin will likely change by a small amount after all the canvasses are completed.
As for the one provisional ballot mentioned earlier, Tollefson instructed canvasser Larry Holterman to put all the documentation into a manila envelope, “so if there’s a recount, we’ll have this all together,” she said.
In a recount, officials would check the board of canvassers’ work and also look at each ballot, something the canvassers don’t do, Tollefson said.
Tollefson recalled that the last recount took 10 days to complete. Local elections officials familiar with the process are brought in for the recount. They are normally watched by observers from the two major parties and sometimes others.
Monday, the three-member board of canvassers, plus Tollefson, checked the totals from each voting tabulator. The tabulators register each vote and calculate totals for each candidate. They also issue a summary of the voting on a spool of paper about 3½ inches wide.
The canvassers checked the paper-tape results against the tallies on their printouts. They added in provisional ballots where appropriate.
Holterman read off the voting results for each candidate and the number of write-ins for each vote-counting machine. Lucille Vickerman, Dave Vaughn and Tollefson checked their own printouts to confirm.
Holterman is the Republican Party’s representative on the board of canvassers. Vaughn represented the Democrats. Tollefson normally would have been the third member, but because she was on the ballot, Vickerman filled in for her.
Tollefson guided the board whenever a question arose. The Gazette observed the process for more than an hour. Other observers were there, as well. The public was allowed to attend and to ask questions, and some people did, often to ask someone to repeat a vote total.
The canvassers added up the votes in each municipality to make sure their tallies matched. At one point, Vickerman noted what she thought was a discrepancy, but after a check, she found she had written down an incorrect number.
The board took most of the day to get through all the votes from the various towns, villages and cities.
Once in a great while, Holterman was not able to read a number on the tape, where the print is very small and a zero can look like an eight. When that happened, he asked Vickerman to confirm.
Another part of the canvass is a review of any notes made by each poll’s chief inspector. Holterman read a note in one town where a voter dropped off an absentee ballot and then wanted to vote again.
“No ballot was issued,” Holterman read.