More than a dozen people are involved in the recount; most are volunteers.
One of the election observers told me, more than half seriously, that she was there at Dane County's recount of the state Supreme Court election to see "what democracy looks like." Certainly, it was a lot more orderly than how it's sometimes looked over the last several weeks.
Room 354 of the City-County Building has been humming with activity all day as the ballots in the April 5 are being recounted one by one. According to Dane County Corporation Counsel Marcia MacKenzie, about 7,000 ballots were recounted as of mid-afternoon, of 184,000 cast. Dane, like counties throughout the state, has until May 9 to complete the job.
The means the county is behind the pace it needs to keep, but interim Clerk Karen Peters is not concerned. The first day, she says, is bound to go slower than the ones to come.
Here's how it works: Each ballot is reviewed by hand, with any ballots that present questions of any sort being eye-balled by the Board of Canvassers, who make the call. Partisan election observers literally overlook this process, and can challenge any decisions; as of 3:30 p.m. today, says Peters, no challenges were made.
More than a dozen people are involved in the recount; most are volunteers. That's largely why Dane County expects its recount to cost only around $20,000. Milwaukee County, in contrast, which has about two and a half times as many people, expects to shell out a whopping $500,000.
Outside the room Melissa Mulliken, campaign manager for challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, who came up about 7,300 votes short of incumbent Justice David Prosser, out of 1.5 million cast, held a press conference.
"I'm surprised the Prosser campaign has been so vehement against a recount," she told the half-dozen or so reporters present. "This recount is a good thing ... and a positive thing."
The election, she said, had enough anomalies to raise concerns in people's minds; the recount, she suggested, should put those concerns to rest. Along the way, it will help shed some light on the process; Mulliken, a veteran of political campaigns, said even she was learning new things.
But there is plenty she already knows. Asked if there any scenario in which the recount will not bring resolution to the question of who won the state Supreme Court race by May 9, Mulliken gave a noncommittal reply: "Let's watch how this unfolds and what the process reveals."