I’m actually more-or-less ambivalent toward the news that there will be a hand recount of optical-scan ballots in at least portions of 31 counties, jointly agreed to by the Prosser and Kloppenburg campaigns, but only because I am confident that not even a hand recount in those 31 counties (list of counties, though not municipalities other than the city of Milwaukee, courtesy WISC-TV’s Jessica Arp) will result in a net change-of-margin of over 500 votes.
For those of you wondering, in a typical recount, optical-scan ballots would be fed right back through the machine, while both paper ballots that were not optically-scanned and ballots cast on direct recording electronic machines are both hand-counted (DRE hand recounts are from the permanent paper record generated by the machine). However, the Government Accountability Board found an otherwise-irreconcilable problem with the Optech Eagle optical-scan machines used in at least parts of 31 counties and filed a suit to allow a court to reconcile it.
The Optech Eagle, which is no longer made, requires removable memory cartridges, which also are no longer made, to record the vote totals. In order to perform a machine recount, each memory cartridge used in each machine must be clear of all prior data and reprogrammed to perform the recording of the count. There is a claimed insufficient number of spare memory cartridges available nationwide to allow for a recount without erasing at least some of the memory cartridges used on April 5. However, since there is a recount pending, the memory cartridges cannot be erased under state law.
The GAB, through the Department of Justice, had asked for a declaratory judgement to allow a sufficient number of memory cartridges used on April 5 to be erased and used in the recount, while acknowledging that either or both campaigns may request a hand recount.