Wisconsin's presidential election recount now underway: "We're going to get the job done"

MILWAUKEE COUNTY — The first candidate-driven statewide recount of a presidential election in 16 years is now underway in Wisconsin -- and there were some delays in Milwaukee County.

The recount starting Thursday, December 1st was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Almost no one expects recounts to result in a Hillary Clinton victory over President-elect Donald Trump. Clinton trails President-elect Trump by more than 22,000 votes in Wisconsin.

The tiny Menominee County was the first to finish the recount Thursday -- one county down -- 71 to go! Clinton cut the lead by one vote.

This is the first presidential recount in Wisconsin.

In Milwaukee County, the vote counting on the first day of the recount took almost three hours longer than expected.

"We got off to a slower start than we anticipated," Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said.

On Thursday morning, the Board of Canvassers voted to use machines to recount the ballots. But before a recount could begin, a man from Greenfield, a supporter of Stein, objected to the board's decision to test only two of the voting machines.

"We're paying $3 million, $4 million. I think we can test 30 machines," Mark Kowalski, the objector said.

More than two hours into the Wisconsin recount, not one single ballot had been recounted in Milwaukee County.

Canvassers discussed in closed session and then publicly voted unanimously to test all 30 voting machines. Election officials did that one-by-one, with a gaggle of observers and reporters crowding around.

One of the machines was broken, and a technician had to fix it. All the voting machines were eventually proved to be working properly.

Election inspectors then verified that absentee ballots were either rejected or accepted properly on Election Day -- the first step in the recount, which had to happen before inspectors moved forward.

Election officials in Milwaukee County said they do not expect Thursday morning's delays to prevent them from finishing the recount on time.

Recount workers fed the first votes from suburban Milwaukee County through voting machines at 2:25 p.m. Thursday, more than five hours after the recount began.

Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said workers examining the city's ballots would work every day except Sundays through the December 12th deadline. He said suburban municipalities would rotate through the city election warehouse where votes were being counted.

"We're going to get the job done. It's going to take us a little longer today, but we will complete our assigned task by the deadline," Czarnezki said.

Czarnezki said around 2:30 p.m. that commissioners had rejected eight ballots that had been accepted on Election Day.

"There have been a couple that have been rejected because they were improperly filed," Czarnezki said.

In one case, commissioners rejected the absentee ballot of a Brown Deer woman who voted twice. The Brown Deer village clerk said police got involved in the case but prosecutors declined to file charges, ruling the woman didn't have criminal intent.

Because the clerk had no way of identifying the woman's ballot, election workers planned to randomly remove one absentee ballot from Brown Deer's stack before feeding them through the machines.

Representatives from President-elect Donald Trump's campaign, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and the Green Party were on hand to observe and challenge questionable ballots.

In Milwaukee County, the first municipality to finish the recount was the tiny Village of River Hills. One worker said the recount matched up perfectly with results from November 8th.

Workers in the City of Milwaukee had made slightly more headway sooner Thursday, and eight of the city's 327 wards had been counted by 2:45 p.m. Election Commission Director Neil Albrecht said the first day is always the slowest as election inspectors settle into the process.

The first votes from the City of Milwaukee were fed through a machine at 12:15 p.m., as a gaggle of reporters and a few election observers looked on.

Waukesha County was also conducting their recount with machines. As of about 10:30 a.m., the county clerk was still going over rules with tabulators, observers and others in attendance. No counting had begun.

As of 3:30 p.m., officials were checking the validity of ballots. Vote counting had not begun in Waukesha County as of 8:00 p.m. FOX6 News was told officials would work in Waukesha County until midnight on this first day.

"Obviously today is really kind of iffy because we don't know how long each step will take," officials said.

There are nearly 240,000 ballots to count in Waukesha County -- one of the largest totals in the state.

County election officials across Wisconsin were hiring temporary workers, expanding hours and dusting off recount manuals to prepare for the work of retabulating nearly three million ballots.

President-elect Donald Trump's campaign has filed an objection to Green Party candidate Jill Stein's request for a hand recount of Michigan's presidential election votes.

The objection filed Thursday will delay or block the recount, which the state was planning to begin Friday.

The Board of State Canvassers has scheduled a meeting Friday to hear arguments. The Michigan Bureau of Elections says the recount cannot begin until two business days after the four-member, bipartisan board resolves the objection.

Stein has also requested a recount in Pennsylvania.