• WisPolitics

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

 8:43 PM 

Judge rejects Stein campaign request to require hand recount of presidential results

A Dane County judge tonight rejected Jill Stein’s request to require a hand recount of the nearly 3 million votes cast in Wisconsin’s presidential race.

Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn noted recounting by hand is the “gold standard” and would lead to the most accurate count. But she said the Stein campaign had not provided “clear and convincing evidence that there is some kind of defect” in the state’s voting machines that would throw off the election results. 

The decision means the counties will be able to select which method they want to use for the recount, which is expected to begin Thursday.

Nineteen county clerks have proposed using voting machines to recount some or all of their votes, though the decision is up to the county board of canvassers, Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas said. 

Bailey-Rihn said she “may disagree” with those counties, but it’s “their decision.” 

“I understand that it is extremely important to the people of the state of Wisconsin, I understand it is extremely important to the nation, but I must follow the law,” Bailey-Rihn said.

State statutes require candidates who want to force a hand recount to show “clear and convincing evidence” a problem with the automatic count that would lead to an incorrect recount result. The statutes also require a candidate to show a “substantial probability” that a hand recount would change the outcome of the election and produce a more accurate result.

Even if the second part was met, Bailey-Rihn said, the first wasn’t.

Stein’s lawyers invited three experts to testify that election systems are generally vulnerable to cyberattacks and that a hand recount is the best way to ensure the results are accurate, with one calling a hand recount “the gold standard.”

Matthew Brinckerhoff, a lawyer for the Stein campaign, told reporters the candidate is considering all of her options, including an appeal of Tuesday night’s ruling. But he said all of the state’s county board of canvassers should opt for a hand recount.

“There’s nothing for anyone to be afraid of here,” he said. “We’re just talking about counting the votes and making sure that we know who voted for whom and that they were correctly tabulated.”

Bailey-Rihn said if the experts are correct in that the machines could’ve been tampered with, there’s “nothing to link it to Wisconsin,” as the statutes require.

The state DOJ got those experts to acknowledge that they had no specific knowledge of irregularities in Wisconsin. Haas, DOJ’s only witness, also said he wasn't aware of any irregularities in the vote count or that there was any malware on the state voting machines.

That, said DOJ attorney Mike Murphy, is not “clear and convincing evidence.”

“All that we have here is 100 percent hypothetical speculation about what could possibly imaginably happen,” DOJ attorney Mike Murphy said. “That is far, far short of any standard.”

A lawyer for the Clinton campaign, meanwhile, said since there’ll be a recount, it should be done as “accurately and transparently as possible.” 

The lawyer, Josh Kaul, said there’s no question a hand count is the most accurate. He pointed out it’s the method the state uses when doing an audit of election results, which is aimed at ensuring voting machines work properly rather than verifying the outcome of an election. 

Kaul also said a hand recount won’t amount to much more work on behalf of local officials, noting Dane County is choosing to do so despite being the second most populous county in the state. 

“There’s going to be a lot of work that goes into it, but there’s going to be a lot of work that goes into it either way,” Kaul said. 

-- By Polo Rocha

 1:38 PM 

Elections Commission revises Stein recount cost estimate to nearly $3.9 million

Though the estimate is now higher, Jill Stein’s campaign still has to pay nearly $3.5 million by 4:30 p.m. in order for a recount to take place.

The Elections Commission had originally estimated the costs of a recount in the state’s 72 counties would be $3.5 million. But that figure is actually $3.9 million, Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said.

The figures come from the cost estimates that counties provided to the Elections Commission, which prepared a spreadsheet yesterday detailing the county-by-county costs. But the earlier tally in the spreadsheet was incomplete because it didn’t include the handful of counties whose costs were formatted as text, not numbers.

Adding those counties’ costs leads to a revised estimate of $3,898,340.

Stein’s campaign is now on the hook for the full cost of the recount after independent candidate Rocky De La Fuente dropped his recount request.

But Magney said the Stein campaign will have to pay the earlier figure of nearly $3.5 million by 4:30 p.m., not the updated estimate.

Magney noted that if the costs of the recount turn out to be higher, Stein’s campaign would have to pay for the difference, but it would get a refund if the costs are lower than predicted.

Magney also said the figures don’t include the costs the state will incur if the recount takes place.

“We don’t know the state costs yet,” Magney said. “We’ll add them in at the end if we can.”

-- By Polo Rocha

 1:05 PM 

De La Fuente dropping recount request in Wisconsin

Independent Rocky De La Fuente announced today he is dropping a petition seeking a recount of Wisconsin's results, leaving Green Party candidate Jill Stein on the hook for the full $3.5 million cost of the review.

Had De La Fuente continued with the petition, he would have had to cover half of the fee, which he said was "cost prohibitive."

“I do not want to favor one candidate over another," he said in a statement. "My only interest is to create a nationwide awareness of the vulnerability of our election system and to do everything possible to assure that your vote counts for the candidate for whom it is cast.”

Wisconsin election officials announced Monday Stein, De La Fuente or both would have to cover the $3.5 million cost of the recount for the process to move forward. But they also expressed doubts both candidates would come forward with the money. Green has been fundraising for her pledge to seek recounts in three states, while De La Fuente had not said how he would pay for his share.

Stein faces a 4:30 p.m. deadline to submit the payment.

-- By JR Ross

 9:21 AM 

Judge to hold hearing today on Stein recount lawsuit

A Dane County judge today will hold a hearing on Green Party candidate Jill Stein's lawsuit looking to ensure all 72 Wisconsin counties do a hand recount of their ballots.

Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn will hold a hearing at 4:30 p.m. today at the Dane County Courthouse.

Stein's lawsuit comes after the state Elections Commission rejected Stein's request to do a hand recount, instead leaving the option for counties to either do that or do the recount by using their voting machines.

 -- By Polo Rocha

 8:19 AM 

Stein calls $3.5 million recount estimate 'exorbitant'

Green Party candidate Jill Stein would have to spend nearly half of what she’s raised for recounts in three states just to cover the costs of the Wisconsin tally.

The Elections Commission late yesterday announced a statewide recount is expected to cost nearly $3.5 million, based on estimates from the 72 counties.

Stein called the cost “exorbitant.”

“While this excessive fee places an undue burden on our efforts, we are committed to paying this cost in order to assure that the voting in Wisconsin was accurate,” said Stein, who also announced she will now seek to raise an additional $2.4 million.

Both Stein and independent Rocky De La Fuente petitioned the state for a recount and face a deadline of 4:30 p.m. today to come up with the money. The Elections Commission yesterday directed agency staff to assess the full fee to both candidates unless they each submit payment for one-half of the cost.

Stein’s campaign had previously estimated the fee would be $1.1 million, not counting attorney fees. It had raised almost $6.4 million by last night for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

De La Fuente’s campaign, meanwhile, did not return a call yesterday asking how he would cover his share of the cost.

For the recount to go forward, one or both of the candidates would have to pay the nearly $3.5 million fee.

See Stein’s fundraising page for the recounts:


Monday, November 28, 2016

 4:59 PM 

Elections Commission says recount will cost $3.5 million

The state Elections Commission said today a recount of the presidential election will cost nearly $3.5 million.

The commission has sent that cost estimate to the campaigns of Green Party candidate Jill Stein and independent Rocky De La Fuente, both of whom are seeking a recount. Stein, De La Fuente or both would have to submit payment to cover the costs of the recount by 4:30 p.m. tomorrow for the process to move forward.

The Elections Commission reached the $3,499,689 figure after getting cost estimates from the state's 72 counties. The counties, Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas noted, will have to hire thousands of workers to temporarily help with the recount.

During the commission's meeting today, Haas said the agency staff believes both Stein and De La Fuente have an equal obligation to cover the costs of the recount, though there are doubts both will make the required payment. Stein has been fundraising for the expected recount costs, while De La Fuente’s campaign did not return a call today on whether it’s prepared to make the required  payment.

If both submit the full payment, Haas said, they would receive a refund of one-half the fee.  

If the estimate of the recount costs is lower than actual costs, the campaigns would be on the hook for the additional cost.

If it came in below the estimate, the campaigns would receive a refund.

See the Elections Commission release on the timeline of the recount

See the Elections Commission release on the recount costs

See a spreadsheet detailing cost estimates by county

 4:51 PM 

Stein files lawsuit to force hand recount

Presidential candidate Jill Stein this afternoon filed a lawsuit seeking to force all 72 Wisconsin counties to conduct a hand recount, a Green Party spokesman confirmed.

The Elections Commission today rejected Stein's request to do the recount by hand.

"We expected this," said Green Party spokesman George Martin, citing past experience with Wisconsin recounts.

Under state law, local election officials have the option of conducting a recount by hand or using voting machines. The Elections Commission voted unanimously today to do just that.

Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas today cast doubt on the likelihood of Stein's lawsuit succeeding.

He noted state law requires three things to justify an order for a hand recount:  reason to believe the voting equipment tally was inaccurate; the hand recount would be more accurate; and the result likely would change if a hand count was used.

"That seems to be a high burden of proof for any candidate," Haas said.

-- By JR Ross

 1:17 PM 

Green Party spokesman: Stein will sue seeking hand recount

A spokesman for the state Green Party says presidential candidate Jill Stein will file a lawsuit today seeking to force all 72 Wisconsin counties to conduct by hand recount in the presidential race.

The Elections Commission today rejected Stein's request to do the recount by hand. 

"We expected this," said Green Party spokesman George Martin, citing past experience with Wisconsin recounts.

Under state law, local election officials have the option of conducting a recount by hand or using voting machines. The Elections Commission voted unanimously today to do just that.

Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas today cast doubt on the likelihood of Stein's lawsuit succeeding.

He noted state statute requires three things to justify an order for a hand recount: there is a reason to believe the voting equipment tally was inaccurate, the hand recount would be more accurate and that the result likely would change if a hand count was used.

"That seems to be a high burden of proof for any candidate," Haas said.

-- By JR Ross

 10:21 AM 

Elections Commission rejects Stein request for hand recount of 3 million votes cast in Wisconsin presidential race

The state Elections Commission today rejected Green Party candidate Jill Stein's request for a hand recount of the 3 million votes cast in Wisconsin's presidential race.

That means she'd have to seek a court order to have all 72 counties count ballots by hand. Instead, the commission approved allowing the counties to decide which method worked best for them.

The commission also set a 4:30 p.m. Tuesday deadline for Stein, independent Rocky De La Fuente or both to pay the fee covering the expected costs. That estimate will be delivered to the campaigns by the end of today.

Under the timeline approved today, the recount would begin Thursday. Counties would have to wrap up their work by 8 p.m. Dec. 12 after the commission moved up a proposed deadline. That was done to give the commission staff more time to deal with any issues that arise during the recount.

Much of this morning's meeting consisted of walking through the recount process, the first time it's been used for the results of a presidential race in Wisconsin.

Elections Commission Chair Mark Thomsen predicted the count would reassure voters Wisconsin has a fair system and the state isn't "counting dead people's votes." He stressed the system is "very, very decentralized" with 1,854 municipalities in 72 counties conducting the vote with teams of volunteers.

His comments came one day after Donald Trump, who won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes by just more than 22,000 votes, took to Twitter to say he lost the national popular vote because millions of illegal votes were cast. The claim was offered with no supporting evidence and quickly debunked.

“To say that we didn’t count them correctly the first time, that somehow there were illegal votes being counted is really inappropriate," Thomsen said.

Under the approved timeline:

*Clerks would have to provide by noon today cost estimates and their method for recounting the vote. The cost estimate would be provided to the Stein and De La Fuente campaigns by the close of business today. 

*On Tuesday, Stein and/or De La Fuente would submit payment to the Elections Commission, which would then order the recount.

*On Wednesday, Elections Commission staff would meet with county clerks and canvass members via teleconference to go over the recount rules and processes.

*On Thursday, the recount would begin with a Dec. 12 deadline to wrap up. Elections Commission staff would then prepare the official recount canvass certifications by 3 p.m. Dec. 13.

-- By JR Ross

 9:04 AM 

Staff recommends Elections Commission reject Stein call for hand recount of presidential results

Agency staff is recommending the Elections Commission reject Green Party candidate Jill Stein's request for a hand recount of the nearly 3 million votes cast in Wisconsin's presidential race.

In a memo prepared for this morning's meeting on the recount timeline, agency staff noted state law gives counties the option to determine whether they wish to conduct the recount by hand. In some cases, that method is less expensive and time consuming, according to the memo.

The staff recommends the commission permit each county to determine how the ballots are counted.

If approved, Stein's campaign would have to seek a court order to force a hand count in every county.

-- By JR Ross

 8:28 AM 

Election officials propose Thursday start for presidential election recount

State election officials are warning it will be a “significant challenge” to finish by a federally mandated Dec. 13 deadline a recount of the nearly 3 million votes cast in Wisconsin’s presidential election.

The Elections Commission will meet this morning on a recommended timeline for the recount, which would start Thursday.

Under the proposed timeline:

*Clerks would have to provide by noon today cost estimates and their method for recounting the vote. The cost estimate would be provided to the Jill Stein and Rocky De La Fuente campaigns by the close of business today.

*On Tuesday, Stein and/or De La Fuente would submit payment to the Elections Commission, which would then order the recount.

*On Wednesday, Elections Commission staff would meet with county clerks and canvass members via teleconference to go over the recount rules and processes.

*On Thursday, the recount would begin with a noon Dec. 13 deadline to wrap up. Elections Commission staff would then prepare the official recount canvass certifications by 3 p.m. that day.

After Stein and De La Fuente filed the recount petitions, the Elections Commission warned local officials may need to work nights and weekends to meet the deadline.

See materials for today’s meeting:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

 12:28 PM 

Clinton's campaign will participate in Wisconsin recount

A lawyer for Hillary Clinton said her campaign will participate in an expected Wisconsin recount, though it did not find any "actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology" during its post-election efforts.

Marc Elias wrote in a post on Medium the campaign had "quietly taken a number of steps in the last two weeks to rule in or out any possibility of outside interference in the vote tally in these critical battleground states." 

Though it did not find anything, now that Green Party candidate Jill Stein and independent Rocky De La Fuente have initiated a recount, "we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides."

Donald Trump topped Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin by 22,177 votes of our nearly 3 million cast, according to official results.

Stein's campaign has indicated plans to seek recounts in Michigan and Pennsvylvania as well, and Elias wrote the campaign plans to participate in those as well.

"We do so fully aware that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states  --  Michigan  --  well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount," he wrote. "But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself."

Trump said in a statement the recount was a way for Stein to "fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount."

"This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing," Trump said.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, November 25, 2016

 5:29 PM 

Stein, De La Fuente file recount petitions

Third-party candidates Jill Stein and Rock De La Fuente, neither of whom was a significant factor in the outcome of the presidential race in Wisconsin, today filed requests for a recount of the results.

Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas anticipated the recount would begin late next week after the Stein campaign pays the recount fee.

Haas said the commission is still trying to determine how much the recount will cost and how that will be assessed to the campaigns. The fee would have to be paid before the count would begin.

The commission noted the last statewide recount costs counties more than $520,000, according to a tally by The Associated Press. In that 2011state Supreme Court election, about 1.5 million votes were cast. Nearly 3 million were cast in the November presidential election, and the commission expects the costs to be significantly higher, Haas said.

He also noted the recount would need to be done by a Dec. 13 federal deadline. That means county boards of canvass may need to work evenings and weekends to meet the deadline. 

“The recount process is very detail-oriented, and this deadline will certainly challenge some counties to finish on time,” Haas said. 

Stein received 31,006 votes out of the nearly 3 million cast in the Nov. 8 election. De La Fuente received 1,514, while Donald Trump won the state's 10 electoral votes, topping Hillary Clinton by 22,177 votes, according to official results.

Stein's campaign, which originally set a $2 million fundraising goal for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, had raised almost $5.3 million by late Friday afternoon. It has also now upped its fundraising goal to $7 million.

Stein's campaign has said it expects the Wisconsin recount to cost $1.1 million, not counting attorney fees. The campaign projects its overall costs for the three states could be $6 million to $7 million, though if it raises "more than what's needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform."

-- By JR Ross

Thursday, November 24, 2016

 1:18 PM 

Stein campaign says it's raised enough to fund Wisconsin recount

The campaign of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein says it's raised enough money to cover a recount of Wisconsin's presidential vote.

Stein also dramatically upped her original fundraising goal to cover recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, while warning costs could be even higher once attorney fees are figured in.

Stein's first appeal sought $2 million by Friday for the recounts, and a tracker on a campaign website showed she'd raised nearly $3.8 million by early Thursday afternoon with a new goal of $4.5 million.

Her campaign estimates it would cost $1.1 million to seek a recount in Wisconsin with a deadline of 5 p.m. Friday to file the request. The campaign projects another $500,000 in Pennsylvania and $600,000 in Michigan.

But the site now says that is just for filing costs with attorney fees likely to be another $2 million to $3 million. The site now says overall costs could top $6 million to $7 million.

Stein's site also warns, "We cannot guarantee a recount will happen in any of these states we are targeting. We can only pledge we will demand recounts in those states."

The site goes on to say if more is raised than what's needed, "the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform."

According to numbers posted at the FEC site, Stein's presidential campaign had a little more than $3.5 milion in receipts between Jan. 1, 2015, and Oct. 19. The next round of fundraising reports, which cover the final weeks of the campaign, are due next month.

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

 3:05 PM 

Kapanke raises prospect of fraud, alleges mistakes in seeking recount

Republican Dan Kapanke raised the prospect fraud may have been committed in his narrow loss in the 32nd Senate District and alleged mistakes were made in each ward that comprises the seat.

In formally filing his request for a recount, Kapanke alleged at least one elector showed up at the polls to cast a ballot only to find someone else had signed the poll book next to that person's name.

Kapanke finished the county canvasses 56 votes behind Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.

The petition seeks a recount in every ward that makes up part of the 32nd SD.

-- By JR Ross

 2:58 PM 

Green Party presidential candidate seeking money for recount in Wisconsin

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is trying to raise $2 million by Friday to seek recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to an appeal posted on her website.

Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas said Stein's campaign notified the agency today of its intention to seek a recount. The filing deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, which is one hour after Stein's self-imposed cutoff to raise the $2 million.

Stein would have to cover the costs of a recount in Wisconsin, and Haas said the Elections Commission is researching whether the fee would have to be paid by when a request is filed or sometime next week.

Haas also was unsure what the cost would be for a statewide recount. He noted a 2011 media report that a recount in that year's state Supreme Court race cost local clerks more than $520,000. That does not include state costs. That year, 1.5 million votes were cast. Just less than 3 million were cast this month in the presidential race.

-- By JR Ross

 8:37 AM 

Ballots for 399 who didn't show photo ID not counted

Nearly two-thirds of the provisional ballots from voters across the state who didn't have a proper photo ID may not be counted, according to new figures from the Elections Commission. 

The agency released preliminary numbers showing voters cast at least 750 provisional ballots in this month's elections. Those voters had to come back by Friday at 4 p.m. after Election Day to provide the proper documents or information so their ballots can count. 

Of those, 618 provisional ballots were for people who didn't have the appropriate photo ID, the Elections Commission said. One of the measures it uses found 399 of those 618 ballots "are marked as Deadline Expired, an indicator they were not counted." That would represent roughly 65 percent of those ballots. 

The Elections Commission also said about 27.9 percent of voters this fall decided to cast an absentee ballot, up significantly from the 21.57 percent of voters who did so in 2012. 

As of Nov. 15, municipal clerks had recorded 830,763 returned absentee ballots in the WisVote system, with 666,846 of those absentee ballots cast in person. 

See the release: 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

 11:01 AM 

Kapanke will seek recount in race with Shilling

Republican Dan Kapanke, who finished the county canvass 56 votes behind Dem Sen. Jennifer Shilling, will seek a recount.

The request is expected to be filed tomorrow, the deadline to request one.

"The request is due to the fact that the results were extremely close," said Kapanke spokesman Luke Martz. "A recount will ensure each and every vote that was cast is recorded correctly and fairly."

-- By JR Ross

Monday, November 21, 2016

 2:34 PM 

Split federal court rules Assembly districts unconstitutional gerrymander

A split three-judge panel today found the Assembly district boundaries Republicans drew in 2011 are an unconstitutional political gerrymander.

Still, the court put off ruling on an appropriate remedy. The Dems who sued over the lines wanted the Assembly districts to be thrown out, for the court to draw a new map and for the judges to ban the state from allowing elections to the maps as drawn.

But the court said it wants the parties to have an opportunity to weigh in on any remedy. As part of today's decision, the court set a briefing schedule to gather input on that front.

A state Department of Justice spokesman said the agency is still reviewing the decision.

Read the ruling

-- By JR Ross

Friday, November 11, 2016

 8:31 AM 

Fitzgerald re-elected majority leader, says he'll appoint same slate to JFC

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he won't change any of his appointments to the Joint Finance Committee next session.

Fitzgerald also said Thursday Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, will stay on as the Joint Finance co-chair.

"It'll be the same slate," the Juneau Republican told reporters after a Senate GOP caucus meeting.

At the meeting, Fitzgerald was unanimously chosen to lead the caucus for the seventh time, following Tuesday's elections that will expand the GOP majority to at least 20-13.

Fitzgerald thanked senators and staff for an "outstanding job" despite the "very, very difficult political season." That includes those who are observing the canvass in La Crosse's 32nd SD, where Republicans are hoping to oust Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling after a tight race.

"It was tough on everybody, but I'm really proud of our team and the way we pulled together," Fitzgerald said.

Also re-elected to a leadership spot was Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, who will stay on as assistant majority leader. Sens. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, and Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, will remain caucus chair and vice chair, respectively.

Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, will be the new Senate president as Sen. Mary Lazich is retiring. And Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, will be the president pro tempore, a spot currently vacant following the death of Sen. Rick Gudex, who was not seeking re-election.

All of them were selected unanimously.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

 8:27 AM 

Lower Milwaukee Co. turnout, support in western WI helps propel Trump to victory

Lower turnout in Milwaukee County was a big reason behind Donald Trump's surprise victory in Wisconsin, as was his support in western Wisconsin counties that had voted Dem in the past.

Trump beat Clinton in the state by roughly 27,000 votes.

Trump had 1,409,467 Wisconsin voters, just surpassing the 1,407,966 voters that Romney had in 2012, according to the latest AP update.

Clinton, meanwhile, had more than 235,000 votes fewer than Obama did in 2012, with 1,382,210 voters backing her compared to 1,620,985 who voted for Obama in 2012.

WisPolitics.com pulled the statewide numbers late this Wednesday, though the county-by-county numbers are from earlier in the day, so not all of those are updated.

As of earlier Wednesday, Hillary Clinton had 288,986 votes in Milwaukee County, while President Barack Obama had 332,438 votes in 2012 and 319,819 votes in 2008.

Dane County voters, though, gave Clinton higher margins than they did Obama. Clinton had 217,506 votes in the county, compared to 216,071 votes for Obama in 2012. Clinton won the county with 71.4 percent of the vote, while Trump had 23.4 percent.

But Trump picked up several western Wisconsin counties that backed Obama last cycle. In 2012, for example, Obama won with more than 56 percent of the vote in Grant, Trempealeau and Jackson counties. Trump won those counties with 51.3 percent, 54.3 percent and 53.3 percent, respectively.

He also had larger margins than Romney in the Fox Valley. Trump won Outagamie County with 54.2 percent of the vote, while Romney took 50.1 percent. In Fond du Lac County, Trump's percentage was 60.8 percent, while Romney's was 56.8 percent.

Statewide, voter turnout was lower than expected, with the AP returns showing 2,944,126 votes in the presidential race, the Elections Commission said today. Though final numbers aren't out yet and are expected to be higher, the commission says they'll be "nowhere near" the 3.1 million voters it had predicted or the 2012 level of 3,080,628 voters.

In fact, the unofficial 66.23 percent turnout would be the lowest since 1996, when 58 percent of the state's voting age population turned out.

See the county-by-county differences

See the Elections Commission release

-- By Polo Rocha

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

 12:49 PM 

Barca taking a day or two before deciding on running for minority leader again; Steineke, Petersen seeking majority leader

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, will take a day or two before deciding whether he wants to run for re-election to the post, a spokeswoman said today.

Meanwhile, Rep. Kevin Petersen, R-Waupaca, tells WisPolitics.com he plans to challenge Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, for that spot.

And a spokeswoman says Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, will seek re-election to that post when Assembly Republicans meet Monday for leadership elections.

Assembly Dems will meet Tuesday.

See a roundup of those interested in leadership posts in today’s PM Update.

-- By JR Ross

 11:23 AM 

Ryan: Republicans have a chance to 'go bold' with unified government

House Speaker Paul Ryan said at news conference today that with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress there is an opportunity to "go bold" in enacting the GOP's agenda.

Ryan said when Republicans last had a unified government, they failed to seize the opportunity.

"The opportunity is now here," the Janesville Republican said. "And the opportunity is to go big, to go bold and to get things done for the people of this country."

Ryan said President-elect Donald Trump's victory came from him listening to those who felt they've been ignored, adding that Trump "earned a mandate."

"This is the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime," Ryan said, adding that many Americans feel alienated, have lost faith in core institutions and don't feel represented by people in office. "But Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country no one else heard. He connected in ways with people no one else did. He turned politics on its head."

Ryan, who had several times criticized Trump during the campaign, said his relationship with Trump is "fine" and noted he spoke with him twice in the last 18 hours.

"I think we're going to hit the ground running," Ryan said, noting they are already talking about getting transition teams working together. "We're very excited".

Asked if Trump is supporting his speakership, Ryan demurred, saying "we had great conversations about how we work together on the transition to make this work together."

Ryan noted the House majority is larger than expected and credited Trump with much of the victories.

"Donald Trump provided the kind of coattails that got a lot of people over the finish line so that we could maintain our strong House and Senate majorities," Ryan said. "Now we have important work to do."

Ryan also called for Americans to come together.

"There is no doubt our democracy can be very messy, and we do remain a sharply divided country," Ryan said. "But now, as we do every four years, we have to work to heal the divisions of a long campaign."

Ryan said he thought Trump "set the perfect tone" to accomplish that goal during his acceptance speech.

"This needs to be a time of redemption, not a time recrimination," he said. "We all need to rededicate ourselves to making America great and making it a more perfect union."

Watch the briefing (Ryan's remarks begin at 3-minutes in)

-- By David Wise

 10:11 AM 

Lassa congratulates Testin on win

State Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, this morning congratulated GOP opponent Pat Testin for his win.

“I’m very grateful to all the volunteers who worked so hard in this campaign," Lassa said. "Despite our disappointment, I’m proud that we ran the right way, focusing on real issues that matter to people, and always telling the truth. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart."

-- By JR Ross

 4:24 AM 

Turnout hits more than 2.9 million in prez race

More than 2.9 million voters cast ballots in the presidential race, which was slightly below the Ethics Commission's projection of 3.1 million, according to unofficial returns.

With 3,614 out of 3,620 precincts reporting, Donald Trump had 1.4 million votes, while Hillary Clinton had 1.38 million.

By comparison, Barack Obama won Wisconsin in 2012 with just more than 1.6 million votes, while Mitt Romney took 1.4 million. 

Overall, 3,068,434 votes were cast in the 2012 presidential election.

In the Senate race, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was on pace to pull about 70,000 more votes than Trump. Dem Russ Feingold was on pace to get about 1,500 fewer votes than Clinton.

-- By JR Ross

 3:55 AM 

Shilling declares victory, Kapanke waiting for 'every vote' to be counted

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, declared victory early this morning over former GOP Sen. Dan Kapanke.

Kapanke, who Shilling beat in a 2011 recall election, wrote in a post on Facebook, "The vote is close and we must make sure every vote is counted, including provisional and military ballots. I am looking forward to the conclusion of the official canvass."

Neither included numbers in their statements on the results. 

Under state law, a losing candidate can request a recount without having to pay for it if the difference is 0.25 percent or less. With more than 80,000 votes cast in the race a difference of less than 200 votes would meet that threshold.

Kapanke built an early lead in the rematch, but Shilling slipped back into the lead as more returns from the city of La Crosse were posted.

“I am proud to have earned the support of the voters in the 32nd Senate District and I look forward to continue serving as a strong voice for western Wisconsin in our State Capitol," Shilling said.

-- By JR Ross

 2:56 AM 

Doyle poised to hold on in 94th AD

Dem state Rep. Steve Doyle, of Onalaska, appears poised to hold onto his seat in the La Crosse area.

With all but two precincts in, Doyle had 15,036, or 53 percent, to 13,480, or 47 percent, for Republican Julian Bradley.

-- By JR Ross

 2:03 AM 

Ryan praises Trump for 'incredible victory'

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, is congratulating Republican Donald Trump for an "incredible victory" in the presidential race.

"It marks a repudiation of the status quo of failed liberal progressive policies," Ryan said in a news release. "We are eager to work hand-in-hand with the new administration to advance an agenda to improve the lives of the American people. This has been a great night for our party, and now we must turn our focus to bringing the country together."

-- By Polo Rocha

 2:03 AM 

Testin declares victory in 24th SD

Republican Pat Testin, chairman of the Portage County GOP and a sales rep for a Wisconsin-based wine distributor, has declared victory in the 24th District over Dem Sen. Julie Lassa.

With 94 percent of precincts in, Testin had 41,648 votes, or 53 percent, while Lassa had 37,344 votes, or 47 percent.

"Thank you for trusting me to be your voice in Madison," Testin said in a statement. "There are challenges facing veterans, small business owners, and everyday hard-working taxpayers who just want the shot at a better life for their children and their families. We’re going to work together to make that happen, finding the best ideas to forge a smart path forward."

-- By JR Ross

 1:59 AM 

Walker: Trump victory is 'a win for America'

Gov. Scott Walker says Donald Trump's victory in the presidential race is a "win for taxpayers and a win for America."

Walker ran against Trump in the GOP primaries and endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz over Trump as the state's primaries approached, but he backed Trump in the general election and appeared with him at several stops.

Walker released a statement as Trump was giving his victory speech in New York.

"As we start the work of putting our country back on track, our leaders should look to Wisconsin and be willing to make the decisions needed to enact serious reforms, just like we did in the Badger State," Walker said.

 -- By Polo Rocha

 1:58 AM 

Vos says Trump message reflects what Republicans have done in Wisconsin

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, whose GOP majority will increase to at least 64-35, said Donald Trump’s message this fall reflects what Republicans have done in Wisconsin.

“The message that Donald Trump sold across the country, that Washington is broke and we want elected officials who tell us what they’re going to do and actually get it done, that’s what we did in Wisconsin,” Vos said.

Assembly Republicans released an agenda in September laying out their plans for the next legislative session if they returned in the majority. With that secured, Vos, R-Rochester, said Republicans will pursue those proposals, which include calls for fairer, flatter and lower taxes and the exploration of education savings accounts. 

“We’re going to continue to fight for better schools, and we’re going to continue to focus on what Wisconsin wants, which is a government that works,” Vos said.

Republicans kept all 63 seats in their hands going into Election Day, while picking up a surprise win in the 92nd AD, where Republican Trieg Pronschinske beat Dem Rep. Chris Danou, of Trempealeau, with 52 percent of the vote.

Vos said the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee did four mail pieces and a digital ad in the 92nd AD.

Pronschinske’s late-contribution report shows RACC made $26,412 in in-kind contributions over five transactions on Oct. 31.

“We thought it was a sleeper race because we assumed Trump would do well, but we didn’t advertise it,” Vos said. “It just shows we had a good campaign staff with good instincts and we were able to move a staffer over there a couple of weeks ago, and I think that made all the difference.”

-- By JR Ross

 1:32 AM 

AP projects Trump will win presidential race as he takes Wisconsin

The Associated Press is now projecting GOP nominee Donald Trump will win Wisconsin and the nation.

Trump is leading Dem nominee Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin 49 percent to 46 percent with nearly all of the votes in.

-- By Polo Rocha

Editor's note: This post has been updated with the national call.

 1:31 AM 

CNN calls Wisconsin for Trump

CNN is now projecting Donald Trump will beat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin.

The Associated Press hasn't yet called the race, though it has him up 49 percent to 46 percent with nearly 99 percent of precincts reporting.

 -- By Polo Rocha

 1:26 AM 

Steve Doyle holding on to 6-point lead in 94th AD

Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, is holding on to a 6-point lead in the western Wisconsin 94th AD seat.

With 74 percent of precincts reporting, Doyle has 15,036 votes, or 53 percent, compared to Republican Julian Bradley, who has 13,480 votes, or 47 percent.

-- By Polo Rocha

 1:07 AM 

Danou says he was caught in Trump wave

State Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau, said he ran a “full bore campaign” as he sought re-election to his western Wisconsin seat, but was caught up in a wave fueled by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“I would feel worse if I hadn’t been working my ass off, and I worked my ass off,” Danou said. “There wasn’t anything I could have done.”

With all precincts reporting, Republican Treig Pronschinske had 13,604 votes, or 52 percent, while Danou had 12,551 votes, or 48 percent.

Danou said he put more than 10,000 miles on his car over the campaign, did doors almost every day after Labor Day, had a mail plan and ran radio ads. But in looking over the results in places like Jackson County, where Trump took 53 percent of the vote, it was just too much to overcome.

Danou raised $5,185 in the pre-election period and spent $11,579 between Sept. 1 and Oct. 24. His opponent raised just $2,625 during the span and spent $2,357. But campaign finance reports show the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee moved money into the race late.

“I was clearly fighting an uphill battle when you get those kind of swamping top-of-the ticket numbers,” he said.

Danou said he heard from a lot of voters while doing doors that they weren’t happy with either choice for president and surmised they voted for the one they perceived as “the change agent.”

He said it’s too early to say if he would consider running for his seat again. 

“I suspect in two years Democrats could have a very good election cycle if he does everything he say he’s going to do,” Danou said of Trump. “Believe me, it’ll wear very quick.”

-- By JR Ross

 12:48 AM 

Danou loses Assembly re-election bid in surprise outcome

With all of the votes in, Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau, has lost his re-election bid in an outcome almost nobody predicted.

Republican Treig Pronschinske won with 13,604 votes, or 52 percent, while Danou had 12,551 votes, or 48 percent, according to the Associated Press.

-- By Polo Rocha

 12:40 AM 

Fitzgerald: 'Top of the ticket matters'

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, with Republicans guaranteed to retain their majority and in position to possibly expand it, said Donald Trump generated a national wave in rural areas that helped drive some GOP wins.

"That's why I thought it was important early on for leadership to get on board with the whole Trump deal," said Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. "Top of the ticket matters."

Republicans went into Tuesday expecting a dogfight in the 18th SD, which covers the Fond du Lac-Oshkosh area. But Dan Feyen, of Fond du Lac, won with 56 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, became a late target for Dems. But he was at 57 percent of the vote with all but two precincts in.

Some operatives questioned Fitzgerald's decision to play in the 24th SD, particularly in a presidential year when Dem turnout was expected to surge. But Republicans were feeling confident Pat Testin would pull off the upset of Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point. With 92 percent of the vote in, he had 40,247 votes, or 53 percent, while Lassa had 35,647, or 47 percent.

Former state Sen. Dan Kapanke's challenge of Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, also was considered a longshot by many, considering the district usually has a strong Dem lean in presidential years. But with 71 percent of the vote in, Kapanke was at 25,506 votes, or 53 percent, while Shilling was at 21,140, or 44 percent.

Fitzgerald said the key in both races was the two Republicans ended up with strong name ID. He said Kapanke began high because of his two terms in the Senate before losing a recall election in 2011 to Shilling and Testin built his. The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate invested six figures in Testin to help his bid.

"The formula is still the same," Fitzgerald said. "You've got to make sure their name ID is up there."

Fitzgerald declined to say what the GOP agenda would be in the next session, particularly if it has a larger majority in the Senate. But asked if expanding school choice, making additional changes to prevailing wage and cutting taxes were likely topics, he said all of that and more could be on tap.

"I gotta get a handle on that as much as anybody on where the caucus wants to go and what it wants to accomplish," Fitzgerald said.

-- By JR Ross

 12:07 AM 

Gallagher strikes cordial tone as he wins big in 8th CD

Republican Mike Gallagher struck a cordial tone toward his Democratic opponent Tom Nelson during his 8th CD victory speech.

Gallagher said while he had his differences with Nelson, the Outagamie County executive, he doesn't question his patriotism or love for his family and called him "a man of deep faith."

"And for that I admire him," Gallagher said. "I look forward to working with him and his supporters in the coming months to figure out how we can come together as a country and solve some problems."

With almost all of the votes in, Gallagher was leading with 63 percent of the vote, while Nelson had 37 percent, according to unofficial returns gathered by the Associated Press.

In his speech, Gallagher thanked retiring U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, his family and all those who helped him during the campaign.

He said when he got in the race, he didn't know if he would get anywhere, saying no one knew him and he was up against a well-funded attempt from Dems to take back the seat.

"We had a more powerful weapon in our arsenal," Gallagher said. "That's the people in this room."

He said his campaign prevailed because of a simple message, "The world can use more of what we're doing right here in Wisconsin and less of what they're selling in Washington, D.C."

In a statement, Nelson thanked supporters for their efforts and wished Gallagher "the very best in his service" in Congress.

"While we came up short, I could not be more thankful to the thousands of volunteers who dedicated their time to our cause," Nelson said. "Our campaign was built on the grassroots army of volunteers who made more than a half-million phone calls and knocked on over 150,000 doors. And while millions in outside special interest money was spent in this race, I am proud that 46,397 people donated to our campaign and gave an average donation of just $30."

Nelson said he will "continue to make the families of Northeast Wisconsin my priority, and I look forward to championing policies that will help grow our middle-class.”

-- By David Wise

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

 11:46 PM 

Danou down 985 with two precincts out

Dem Rep. Chris Danou trailed by 985 votes with just two precincts left in his western Wisconsin district.

With 97 percent of the vote in, Republican Treig Pronschinske had 12,918 votes, or 52 percent, to 11,933, or 48 percent, for Danou, of Trempeleau.

-- By JR Ross

 11:42 PM 

Hansen holds on to Green Bay state Senate seat

Dem state Sen. Dave Hansen, who fell behind Republican Eric Wimberger in early returns, will keep his Green Bay seat, the Associated Press projects.

Hansen had 40,208 votes, or 51 percent, over Wimberger, who had 38,169 votes, or 49 percent.

-- By JR Ross

Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect the AP projection. 

 11:38 PM 

Snyder projected to win 85th, Brooks 50th, Bernier 68th

Republican Pat Snyder has won the open 85th AD, which is now in GOP hands.

With all precincts in, Snyder took 14,722 votes, or 53 percent, while former Dem Rep. Mandy Wright took 12,837 votes, or 47 percent.

In another closely watched race, Rep. Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg, is projected to win re-election. With 79 percent of the vote in, Brooks had 10,420 votes, or 59 percent, to 7,346 votes, or 41 percent, for Dem Art Shrader.

And in the 68th, GOP Rep. Kathy Bernier, another Dem target to start the cycle, is projected to win re-election. She had 13,093 votes, or 58 percent, to 9,368 votes, or 42 percent, for Dem Howard White. 

-- By JR Ross

 11:17 PM 

WisGOP congratulates Trump on Wisconsin victory, though no AP call yet

The state GOP is congratulating Donald Trump for being the first Republican to win the state "for the first time in decades."

Fox News has called the race for Trump, though the Associated Press hasn't yet projected he'll beat Hillary Clinton in the state. Republicans haven't won the presidential race here since Ronald Reagan's 1984 victory.

In a news release, state GOP Chairman Brad Courtney said the party, under the leadership of Gov. Scott Walker and House Speaker Paul Ryan, has done "our part to Make America Great Again."

"This is a clear statement that Wisconsin voters seek change, and Donald Trump and Mike Pence will shake up Washington to put the power back in the hands of Americans," he said.

-- By Polo Rocha

 11:11 PM 

Novak projected to win re-election to 51st AD

Freshman Rep. Todd Novak, who was considered the most vulnerable Republican incumbent heading into Election Day, is projected to win re-election.

With 97 percent of precincts in, Novak was at 13,390 votes, or 51 percent, to 12,671 votes, or 49 percent, for Dem Jeff Wright. 

-- By JR Ross

 11:08 PM 

Two Dem Assembly seats to watch

Republicans appear in good shape to hold onto all 63 seats they had going into Tuesday. 

And they have a chance to pull off a shocker that no one was talking about.

With 86 percent of the vote in, Republican Treig Pronschinske had 52 percent, to 48 percent for Dem Rep. Chris Danou, of Trempeleau.

Another race to watch is the 94th in the La Crosse area. Dem Rep. Steve Doyle, of Onalaska, was up 51-49 on Republican Julian Bradley with 52 percent of the vote in.

-- By JR Ross

 10:58 PM 

Feyen says 18th SD victory was due to ‘a lot of shoe leather’

Longtime GOP activist Dan Feyen says it’s “a little surreal” to think he’ll be joining the state Senate after winning the 18th SD in one of the most-watched legislative races.

Feyen, who beat Dem Mark Harris, says the win is partly due to “a lot of shoe leather” his campaign put into the race, noting they knocked on 23,000 doors since Aug. 15.

“We put together a campaign plan, we stuck to it from day one, and I think we just worked really hard every day,” said Feyen, who also works at a Fond du Lac printing company.

With 97 percent of districts reporting, Feyen led with 57 percent of the vote while Harris had 43 percent, according to unofficial results gathered by the AP.

Harris said Feyen was “very gracious” when he called to concede the race tonight, adding that he expected a closer race and that he expected the top of the ticket to be more competitive.

But Harris said he’ll now prepare to run for a fourth term as the Winnebago County exec, which he noted would “take me out to age 65.”

“I’m very grateful to all the volunteers, the staff, everyone that worked on this campaign,” Harris said. “I think we ran an honorable campaign.”

Feyen, meanwhile, said his number one focus will be “closing the skills gap” in the area, and that he’ll also work on shoring up the state’s transportation fund and ensuring schools have the funding they need.

“So many employers are looking for skilled laborers,” Feyen said. “We need to work with employers [and] tech schools … and get employment back to 100 percent in this area.”

-- By Polo Rocha

 10:56 PM 

Feingold: Sorry 'we didn't get the job done'

Russ Feingold told supporters he was sorry “we didn’t get the job done” as he conceded the U.S. Senate race to incumbent Ron Johnson Tuesday.

“Obviously something is happening in this country tonight,” Feingold said. “I don’t understand it completely. I don’t think anybody does.”

Feingold urged restraint "as the next steps occur,” saying he didn't know what they would be, "but this could be one of the most challenging times in the history of our country."

While many supporters left before Feingold's concession, some lingered to watch other election results before clearing out soon after the speech.

The crowd had been subdued throughout the night, only emitting cheers as Dem Hillary Clinton was projected to win certain states in the presidential race and when Feingold thanked his wife and young people who supported his campaign.

-- By Madeline Sweitzer

 10:50 PM 

GOP wins in key Senate races secure Republican majority

Republicans are projected to win key races in the state Senate, ensuring they will hold onto the majority in the upcoming session.

The AP is projecting GOP Sens. Sheila Harsdorf, of River Falls; Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst; and Luther Olsen, of Ripon; will win. The AP also projects Republican Dan Feyen will win the open 18th SD, which is now in GOP hands.

In addition to being in position to come back with the 19 seats they now have, Republicans have early leads in three Dem-held seats.

With 48 percent of the vote tallied in the 24th SD, Republican Pat Testin had 59 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point.

With 32 percent of the vote in, Eric Wimberger had 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.

And with 46 percent of the vote in, Republican Dan Kapanke had 54 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.

-- By JR Ross

 10:44 PM 

Johnson: America has given Republicans a chance to put America on the right path

OSHKOSH -- U.S. Sen Ron Johnson, the first Republican in 36 years to win Wisconsin during a presidential year, called his re-election a great night for Wisconsin and America.

Johnson, who trailed every publicly released poll but one since Dem Russ Feingold got into the race, said he has spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, RNC Chair Reince Priebus and House Speaker Paul Ryan. 

“My message has been pretty consistent,” Johnson said. “I believe America has given us a chance, an opportunity to put this nation on the right path. It’s exactly what I intend to do.”

Johnson announced during the campaign he would not seek re-election if he won a second term, and he repeated that pledge Tuesday night to supporters.

“I approach the next six years with a seriousness of purpose,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a shot, we’ve got a chance, we’ve got to put America on the right path.”

Johnson said he will focus on areas of agreement in his next term.

"We all want a safe, prosperous and secure America," Johnson said. "We are concerned about each other. There is no political party with a monopoly on compassion."

Speaking with reporters afterward, Johnson said he was surprised by the result and had a "gracious call" with Feingold and wished him well.

"I thought this might be kind of a late night," he said.

Johnson, who outperformed Donald Trump in the state, said it was his goal to help bolster the GOP nominee.

He noted that that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told him the only reason Harry Truman won the presidency was because six Senate Dems helped him win their states.

"Quite honestly, that's been my goal ever since," Johnson said. "No matter who the nominee was going to be, I wanted to run a great campaign to help whoever that presidential candidate was also win the state.

"That apparently happened. I'm very proud of that effort."

Johnson said he felt the early turning point was after Labor Day, when he ran ads highlighting initiatives he was involved in to help others.

He said he will continue to work on bolstering national security and working toward tax reform, regulatory reform, reducing energy costs and addressing government waste and abuse.

He also said he is looking forward to confirming judges to the Supreme Court and reaffirmed his call to repeal and replace Obamacare.

"It needs to be repealed. It's done so much damage," Johnson said. "It's been a complete disaster."

Johnson said he would not support removing the 60-vote threshold for legislation to pass the Senate, saying it serves as a check against passions of the moment and was part of the "genius of our founding fathers."

If Trump is elected, he said, he supports an attempt to prosecute Hillary Clinton over her handling of classified emails.

"She needs to be held accountable," Johnson said. "I believe what Secretary Clinton has done is clearly unlawful." 

-- By David Wise

Note: This post has been updated with additional content. 

 10:34 PM 

Fox News projects Trump will win Wisconsin

Fox News is projecting Republican Donald Trump will beat Dem Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin.

The AP has not yet called the race, though it has Trump leading 49 percent to 46 percent with 70 percent of the vote in.

-- By Staff

 10:22 PM 

Feingold spokesman: Dem has called to congratulate Johnson

Dem Russ Feingold has called U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson to congratulate him on winning re-election, a spokesman for the Dem says.

NBC and Fox have called the race for Johnson, who becomes the first Republican to win a U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin during a presidnetial year since Bob Kasten in 1980.

-- By JR Ross

 10:07 PM 

Update on key Assembly races

Here are some updates on key Assembly races:

*With 86 percent of the vote in, Republican Pay Snyder has 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Dem Mandy Wright in the open 85th that's now in GOP hands.

*With 45 percent of the vote in, freshman GOP Rep. Todd Novak, of Dodgeville, had 51 percent of the vote to 49 percent for Dem Jeff Wright in the 51st.

*With 49 percent of the vote in, Rep. Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg, has 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Dem Art Shrader.

*With 51 percent in, GOP Rep. Kathy Bernier, of Chippewa Falls, had 57 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Dem Howard White.

*With 44 percent in, Republican Rob Summerfield was at 70 percent to 30 percent for Dem Dennis Hunt.

-- By JR Ross

 10:00 PM 

Pocan, Moore, Duffy, Sensenbrenner and Grothman re-elected

With the exception of the 8th CD, Wisconsin’s House delegation will be the same next year.

In the open 8th CD, where GOP U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble is retiring, the Associated Press has called the race for Republican Mike Gallagher.

The AP is also projecting U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore, Sean Duffy, Jim Sensenbrenner and Glenn Grothman have each won their re-election races, according to the AP. So did House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, was unopposed in the 3rd CD.

Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, once again faced Republican Peter Theron while Moore, D-Milwaukee, was up against independent Robert Raymond and Libertarian Andy Craig.

Duffy, R-Wausau, faced Dem Mary Hoeft, while Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, was up against Dem Sarah Lloyd and Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, faced Dem Khary Penebaker.

-- By Polo Rocha

 9:52 PM 

GOP's Ripp wins re-election in 42nd AD

Rep. Keith Ripp, R-Lodi, has won his re-election race in the 42nd Assembly District, the Associated Press projects.

Ripp, who chairs the Assembly's transportation committee, faced a challenge from Dem George Ferriter, a Fall River engineer. With 64 percent of precincts reporting, Ripp led with 63 percent of the vote, while Ferriter had 37 percent, according to unofficial returns gathered by the AP.

 -- By Polo Rocha

 9:46 PM 

Gallagher's lead holding in 8th CD

With 38 percent reporting, Republican Mike Gallagher is maintaining his lead over Democrat Tom Nelson in the 8th CD, according to unofficial results.

Returns show Gallagher with 85,938 votes, or 63 percent, and Nelson with 50,876 votes, or 37 percent.

-- By David Wise

 9:33 PM 

Johnson outperforming Trump in WOW counties

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is outperforming Donald Trump in early returns in the GOP stronghold WOW counties surrounding Milwaukee, according to unofficial results.

Johnson also is topping Tommy Thompson's marks from 2012, when the former guv lost his race for the U.S. Senate by 5.6 percentage points statewide.

With 184 of 197 units in Waukesha reporting, Trump has 137,016 votes, 60 percent, while Johnson has 155,139 votes, or 67.9 percent. 

In 2012, Mitt Romney won 66.9 percent, while Thompson won 66.4 percent.

In Ozaukee County, with 45 of 52 units reporting, Trump has 25,952 votes, or 55.5 percent, while Johnson has 30,368, or 64.8 percent. 

In 2012, Romney won 64.7 percent, while Thompson won 64.4 percent.

In Washington County, with all 44 units reporting, Trump has 51,729 vote, or 66.7 percent, while Johnson has 55,961 votes, or 72.5 percent.

In 2012, Romney won 69.6 percent, while Thompson won 68.1 percent.

-- By David Wise

 9:31 PM 

Republicans lead in early 67th AD, 68th AD returns

In a pair of closely watched northwest Wisconsin Assembly races, Republicans are leading in early returns, according to unofficial results.

With 26 percent reporting in the open 67th AD contest, Republican Rob Summerfield leads Democrat Dennis Hunt 3,927 (72 percent) to 1,544 (28 percent).

With 18 percent reporting in the 68th AD, incumbent Republican Rep. Kathy Bernier has 1,453 votes (62 percent) to Democrat Howard White's 901 votes (38 percent).

-- By David Wise

 9:27 PM 

Some Milwaukee County numbers

With more than 82 percent of precincts in, Hillary Clinton is winning 65 percent of the vote in Milwaukee County.

In 2012, Barack Obama won 66.8 percent as he took 177,514 more votes than Mitt Romney.

With less than 18 percent of the vote still out, Clinton has a 150,914-vote edge on Donald Trump.

-- By JR Ross

 9:13 PM 

Dan Feyen wins in closely-watched 18th SD race

Republican Dan Feyen has won in his bid for the closely-watched 18th state Senate district, the Associated Press is projecting.

With 74 percent of precincts reporting, Feyen, a longtime GOP activist who works at a Fond du Lac printing company, was leading with 57 percent of the vote. Dem Mark Harris, the Winnebago County exec, had 43 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns gathered by the AP.

Feyen will take the seat of the late Sen. Rick Gudex, R-Fond du Lac.

-- By Polo Rocha

 9:06 PM 

Ryan victory speech: Could be a 'really good night for America'

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, told supporters Tuesday could be a “really good night for America” as he delivered a short victory speech to supporters.

Ryan, who is projected to win a ninth term to Wisconsin’s 1st CD, addressed supporters as returns continue to come in showing Donald Trump running surprisingly strong in some states.

Ryan told backers he was eager to watch the rest of the night.

“We have so much potential in this country, so much potential, and if we can just tap it, that’s what’s ahead of us,” said Ryan, who was surrounded by family as he spoke.

Ryan thanked supporters, saying working for them has been the greatest honor of his life and he pledged to “work my hardest to deserve this.” Ryan noted he’s a fifth-generation resident of Janesville, has lived there nearly his entire life and knew most of the people in the room for years, “if not decades.”

“We’ve grown up together, we share this community together,” he said. “It’s a great place in a wonderful state in the best country God ever created.”

Ryan left the stage to AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).”

-- By JR Ross

 8:50 PM 

Some Waukesha County numbers illustrate Trump drop off with GOP voters

Some numbers from Waukesha County with more than 80 percent of the vote in show the difficulty Donald Trump faces with some GOP voters in southeastern Wisconsin.

Trump has 61.1 percent of the vote, or 103,701 votes, while Hillary Clinton has 32 percent, or 54,289 votes.

In the Senate race, Ron Johnson has 68.7 percent, of 125,558 votes, while Russ Feingold has 29.4 percent, or 53,747.

In 2012, Mitt Romney won Waukesha County with 66.9 percent of the vote, while Tommy Thompson took it with 66.3 percent.

-- By JR Ross

 8:45 PM 

AP: Paul Ryan wins re-election

House Speaker Paul Ryan will be re-elected to a 10th term in Congress, the Associated Press projects.

With 22 percent of precincts reporting, Ryan, R-Janesville, leads Dem Ryan Solen 74 percent to 22 percent, according to unofficial results gathered by the AP.

 -- By Staff

 8:36 PM 

Some Wisconsin exit polling tidbits

Here are some nuggets from exit polling in Wisconsin that has been posted at the CNN website:

*Clinton 50, Trump 45 in two-way race.

*Women 54-40 for Clinton, men 49-42 for Trump.

*Electorate 86 percent white, 7 percent black, 4 percent Latino, 1 percent Asian, 2 percent other.

*White men 55-36 for Trump; white women 50-44 for Clinton; black men 89-7 for Clinton; black women 94-2 for Clinton.

*90 percent of Dems for Clinton, 88 percent of Republicans for Trump; independents 45-40 for Trump.

Exit poll was based on interviews with 2,981.

-- By JR Ross

 8:34 PM 

Gallagher up in early 8th CD returns

It's still early, but with 7 percent of the vote in, Republican Mike Gallagher is leading Democrat Tom Nelson 66 percent to 34 percent in the open 8th CD.  According to unofficial returns, Gallagher has 18,509 votes to Nelson's 9,399.

 7:57 PM 

Johnson stops by election night party

With polls about to close, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has stopped by his election night party at the Oshkosh Convention Center to chat with supporters.

As attendees talk, snack on hors d'oeuvres and sip drinks from well-stocked bar, they're watching election returns from Fox News on a large movie screen.

The crowd, which continues to grow, has broken into scattered applause as states are called for Trump and when other Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Todd Young of Indiana won their contests.

The stage Johnson is to speak from has a large American flag as a backdrop, flanked by two green and white Johnson campaign banners. Several tables in the ballroom are decorated with green and white balloons.

As they entered, attendees were given plastic cups that feature a picture of Johnson and the text, "fight for freedom" along with Johnson's signature. The cups also carry the tag, "common sense solutions for a stronger America."

Media are behind a rope line in a large section in the back of the ballroom, and have been asked to not leave the area into the main reception area.

-- By David Wise

 4:49 PM 

Study: More pro-Trump ads ran in Wisconsin than pro-Clinton

Of the 14 states that saw the most presidential ads, Wisconsin was the only one where Donald Trump and his allies put up more spots than Hillary Clinton and her backers, according to analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

Using data provided by the ad tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG, the center found Trump and allies aired 6,078 ads during the window studied, June 12 through Nov. 6. By comparison, Clinton and her allies aired 3,848.

That put Wisconsin 10th on the list of 14 states that were reviewed.

Overall, CPI found Clinton and her allies aired more than 383,000 ads during the time period, while Trump and those supporting him put up about 125,000.

Of the 383,000 spots on her side, Clinton aired more than 282,000 of them, accounting for 55 percent of all ad traffic in the race.

Florida saw the most traffic with 93,281 aired on behalf of Clinton, while 28,040 were for Trump.

The tally includes ads on broadcast television and national, but not local, cable.

-- By JR Ross

 4:47 PM 

Election officials report few problems, good turnout so far

Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas says he’s heard of just “low-level issues” so far today as Wisconsin voters hit the polls.

He said one of the most frequent calls the agency received today was from military voters upset to find out their absentee ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. today. Though they can still request them today, the deadline is the close of polls. Previously, they had until the Friday after the election to return their ballots.

Haas said the agency reached out to military and overseas voters ahead of the election to let them know about the change.

“That’s been one of the most frustrating things is military voters just realizing that today,” he said.

There was a minor ballot issue in Fond du Lac, where machines were having a hard time counting votes in a DA race where the candidate was unopposed, Haas said. There also have been calls from people looking for their polling place and inquiring about photo ID requirements.

Attorney General Brad Schimel, whose DOJ sent out “election integrity teams” to several locations, said in a tweet late this afternoon that there were “no issues or problems of any note.”

Several clerks, meanwhile, say they’re seeing turnout that indicates they’ll match their 2012 levels.

That includes Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht, who said the city’s turnout numbers are “very comparable” to 2012, when 87 percent of registered voters turned out.

“I feel pretty confident that we’ll actually boost our voter participation above what it was in 2012,” Albrecht said at a news conference around 4 p.m. “How great that margin is, we can’t really anticipate at this time.”

Albrecht said a few voters have had “pretty profound challenges” in meeting the state’s photo ID requirement or providing proof of residence, though he said the city is getting them to cast a provisional ballot and ensuring they can get the proper documents by Friday so their votes actually count.

Like other city clerks, Albrecht reported some lines when polling locations opened, including some voters who were outside when election workers arrived at 6 a.m.

“And the polls don’t even open until 7 a.m.,” he said earlier today. “So that’s how enthusiastic the public is.”

The clerks also said the flow of voters was fairly even after the morning, though they expect activity to pick up as people begin leaving work.

“It just seems steady,” Kenosha City Clerk/Treasurer Deb Salas said earlier this afternoon.

Janice Johnson-Martin, Racine’s city clerk & treasury manager, said the city hasn’t seen any major issues and that “everything is going well.”

Monica Schultz, the West Allis city clerk, said before noon that turnout so far is “very comparable” to the 2012 levels and that turnout is likely to end up somewhere between 80 and 85 percent of registered voters. The lines in the morning when the polling locations opened cleared up “very quickly,” she said.

“Things have been running smoothly in West Allis considering the volume,” she said. “Right now, it’s very steady.”

David Godek, the Janesville city clerk, projected the city will have “no problem” getting at least 80 percent of registered voters turning out. He said around noon that turnout will likely be at its 2012 levels of roughly 88 percent.

“Right now, our turnout’s looking pretty good,” he said.

And Meredith McGlone, a UW-Madison spokeswoman, said in an email they’re “seeing steady traffic at campus polling places today and no reports of significant delays or disruptions.”

The university had, as of yesterday, also issued 6,485 free IDs to students so they can comply with the state’s voter ID law.

“We're continuing to issue more today, including stationing printers at on-campus polling places so cards can be produced on the spot,” she said.

-- By Staff

 12:51 PM 

Elections Commission says ‘no major issues’ so far, Milwaukee seeing high turnout

The state’s Elections Commission said earlier today it hadn’t heard of any “major issues” so far.

“The phones are busy but manageable,” the commission said in an 11 a.m. update. “Many of the callers are simply looking for their polling place or have questions about acceptable proof of residence or photo ID.”

Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, is on track to meet the 87 percent of registered voters who turned out at the last presidential election, said Milwaukee Elections Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht.

Albrecht told reporters this morning that there were some voters confused about the photo ID requirement, but that the city is working with them to help them meet it.

He also said he wasn’t “aware of any site that’s had a really significant wait time,” though there have been some lines. That included the lines outside several polling locations when the election workers arrived at 6 a.m.

“And the polls don’t even open until 7 a.m.,” he said. “So that’s how enthusiastic the public is.”

The city of Madison has turnout of roughly 25 percent as of 11 a.m., the city said in an update. That's below the 29 percent of voters who had turned out by 11 a.m. in 2012, according to the city's 2012 spreadsheet.

But Dane County Clerk Scott Donell said the drop-off is likely due to the record number of absentee ballots the city -- and county -- have had this year. While some of the smaller municipalities in Dane County have had enough time to submit many of their absentee ballots into their voting equipment, larger municipalities such as Madison have likely been busier today.

"They won't have time to start feeding in the absentee ballots until a little bit later in the day," he said. "I think it is more of a timing issue than it is a number issue."

Monica Schultz, the West Allis city clerk, said before noon that turnout so far is “very comparable” to the 2012 levels and that turnout is likely to end up somewhere between 80 and 85 percent of registered voters. The lines in the morning when the polling locations opened cleared up “very quickly,” she said.

“Things have been running smoothly in West Allis considering the volume,” she said. “Right now, it’s very steady.”

And David Godek, the Janesville city clerk, projected the city will have “no problem” getting at least 80 percent of registered voters turning out. He said around noon that turnout will likely be at its 2012 levels of roughly 88 percent.

“Right now, our turnout’s looking pretty good,” he said.

-- By Polo Rocha

 7:47 AM 

Absentee ballots cast up to more than 821,000 in latest update

The number of absentee ballots cast in Wisconsin this election continues to climb with the latest update from the Elections Commission this morning showing more than 821,000 have already been returned.

Of those, more than 663,000 cast absentee ballots in person, and overall the state issued more than 842,000 absentee ballots for today’s election.

Four years ago, clerks received more than 664,000 absentee ballots by the Friday after the election.

This year, those who requested absentee ballots have until the polls close at 8 p.m. today to return them to local clerks. 

Polls opened today at 7 a.m. as voters cast ballots for president, U.S. Senate, Congress, and state legislative races.

State elections officials are predicting turnout will hit 3.1 million in today’s election, which would be 69.6 percent of the state's voting-age population.

-- By JR Ross

Monday, November 7, 2016

 8:07 PM 

Johnson tells supporters they'll need 'record turnout' in Waukesha

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson called on supporters to put in “maximum effort” to help the GOP ticket win on Tuesday during a rally in Waukesha today.

Johnson said winning what he said would be a “razor thin” election will depend on individual efforts to bring friends and neighbors to the polls.

“We not only need a really good turnout here in Waukesha," Johnson said. "We need a record turnout."

The Oshkosh Republican described Wisconsin as a firewall and that it must deliver its ten electoral votes to GOP nominee Donald Trump.

During the stop, which marked the end of Johnson’s bus tour, the Oshkosh Republican also took a few shots at his Democratic rival, Russ Feingold. He described the former senator as an out-of-touch elitist and career politician while criticizing Feingold’s campaign strategy.

"If you've ever wondered why more good people don't run for office, look no further than Sen. Feingold's false and relentlessly negative campaign against me," Johnson said.

He said Feingold has "very little good to show" for his time in office.

"So all he can resort to is lies, distortion, class warfare, and there's a fair amount of corruption in this election as well," Johnson said.

Joining Johnson at the event at the Waukesha County GOP headquarters was House Speaker Paul Ryan, Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney.

Ryan stressed the need for unity in order for Republicans to maintain control of Congress and to get Trump into the White House. He noted that two weeks ago, he cast his ballot for Trump.

“We need to come home,” Ryan said. “We need to unify, and we need to go vote.”

Ryan said the GOP has a plan to fix the country’s problems, but it will take winning tomorrow’s election and having a unified Republican government to enact the reforms.

Ryan, who has often been critical of Trump, praised his call for a special session to repeal and replace Obamacare.

"When Donald Trump says he wants to have a special session to repeal and replace Obamacare, let me tell you something, as Speaker of the House, not only yes, but heck yes," Ryan said. "We're ready, we're willing, and we have a plan to do it, too."

Walker knocked Feingold, saying that with his 18 years in the Senate he delivered “worse than nothing” as the deciding vote for Obamacare.

Walker praised Johnson as a workhorse in the Senate. He noted Johnson was down in the polls earlier in the race because people didn’t know him because he went to Washington “and quietly did his job.”

“With Ron Johnson, you get someone who shows that actions speak louder than words,” Walker said.

-- By David Wise

 11:57 AM 

U.S. DOJ sending agents to Milwaukee to ensure every eligible voter can participate

The U.S. Department of Justice announced today its Civil Rights Division will send 500 personnel to 67 cities, including Milwaukee, to monitor the elections and ensure all eligible voters can cast ballots.

Milwaukee is the only Wisconsin city on DOJ's list, which includes 28 states.

U.S. DOJ noted it has regularly monitored elections to protect the rights of voters.

AG Loretta Lynch said Civil Rights Division lawyers will staff a hotline along with monitoring polling sites.

Those on the ground will gather information such as whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures based on things like race and if municipalities are complying with requirements such as the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

"As always, our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides," Lynch said. "The department is deeply committed to the fair and unbiased application of our voting rights laws and we will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot."

-- By JR Ross

 11:02 AM 

Elections Commission: Nearly 100,000 more absentee ballots cast than in 2012

More than 100,000 additional absentee ballots already have been cast in Wisconsin compared to four years ago, shattering the old record, according to the latest update from the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Municipal clerks have now received 797,740 absentee ballots, including 650,782 cast in person.

Four years ago, clerks received more than 664,597 absentee ballots by the Friday after the election, the Elections Commission said.

This year, absentee ballots have to be received by the close of the polls on Election Day. The latest Elections Commission update showed 828,248 absentee ballots had been requested, meaning the final number of absentee ballots cast could climb higher.

The deadline for voters to request absentee ballots to be sent to them was Thursday, while Sunday was the final day in-person early voting was allowed.

Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said there are still some people, such as those who are hospitalized, who still can request an absentee ballot be brought to them. But it must be returned by 8 p.m. tomorrow.

Magney also said the absentee ballot will be updated again, and the numbers likely will change because some clerks have no caught up entering the data into the state's system.

-- By JR Ross

See more in today's PM Update.

 9:57 AM 

Feingold: 'Choice is now nice and clear' between Clinton, Trump

Dem U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold said today "the choice is now nice and clear" in the presidential race after the FBI again decided to not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for her private email server.

"Clearing the deck on that is good," Feingold told reporters in Madison. "Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president. Donald Trump should be nowhere near the Oval Office. Sen. Johnson supports him even though we know darn well he wouldn't even hire him at his plastics company."

FBI Director James Comey has taken heat from Dems for announcing Oct. 28 the agency was looking into new emails so close to Election Day. Comey issued a letter Sunday saying the review yielded nothing to change the agency's conclusion this summer that Clinton should not face charges.

Feingold said he has "no opinion" on whether Comey should resign.

"I think Comey is a professional and that's something to be worried about later. This is not the time for that," Feingold said.

Feingold talked to reporters after a canvass kickoff in downtown Madison, where he predicted he'd win the Senate race tomorrow and Clinton would be elected president. The Middleton Dem said his opponent, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, would continue to vote for special interests instead of working for "middle-income working families."

"You don't have a prayer," he said. "You don't have a chance. For six years, you will have zero chance."

  -- By Polo Rocha

See more on the stop in today's PM Update.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

 5:15 PM 

Johnson makes pitch to voters at Packers tailgate

GREEN BAY -- As the clock counts down to Tuesday's election, Senator Ron Johnson didn't just ask football fans to vote for him outside Lambeau Field in Green Bay Sunday, he asked them to recruit others inside the stadium.

The Republican lawmaker expects a tight race and said every vote counts. He gave supporters a stack of campaign cards, saying he was "deputizing" them to hand them out to at least 12 fans inside the Green Bay Packers' home before a mid-afternoon kickoff.

Johnson arrived mid-morning, parking his campaign bus outside The Distillery tavern and restaurant in shadow of Lambeau. His crew fired up a grill and offered free pizza and brats to the crowds that came to greet the candidate and pose for photos.

The senator didn't give a formal address. Instead, he held a can of Miller Lite beer and chatted casually with fans.

"Every area of the state is crucial," he said. "What better place to be than Green Bay on game day?"

Johnson downplayed the possible impact of early voting in the state, which has hit a record, especially in Dane County, a Democratic stronghold.

State estimates show about 775,000 absentee ballots had been turned into election officials by late last week, already significantly more than the more than 680,000 returned by Election Day 2012.

"I think people who turn out early, are decided voters, and they're going to vote anyway," he said. "I think we all agree we should make voting easy, but should also make it very difficult to cheat. So, no, I have no fears in terms of early voting results. We've been trying to get encourage our people too."

He suggested the timing of when early voting started in some areas might have distorted the results, but did not say early voting should be limited.

"Listen, I'm a traditionalist, I like to go down to the polling place I've been doing to for 30 years," Johnson said. "I'm just a traditionalist that way."

His visit to Green Bay is a "get out the vote" stop, he said. 

"I think that's what the past few weeks have been," Johnson said. "I think the undecided voters are going to wait until the last minute anyway, because they want to hear what people have to say."

-- By Patti Zarling

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