Wisconsin Center prepares for hundreds of election workers, observers for Milwaukee County recount

NOW: Wisconsin Center prepares for hundreds of election workers, observers for Milwaukee County recount

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Center is prepared for up to 2,000 people to be on site for the Milwaukee County recount over the next week.

Recounts start Friday, Nov. 20, in Milwaukee and Dane counties after President Donald Trump's campaign requested a partial recount of the state's two largest counties.

The work began Thursday morning as movers wheeled large boxes of ballots under escort into the Wisconsin Center's guarded rooms.

"We have sheriff's deputies guarding these 24/7 until we're done with this entire process," said Milwaukee County Clerk George Christensen.

They will also be in the exhibit hall where the recount is happening to make sure observers are following the rules.

Each city clerk is assigned a set of tables where their ballots will be wheeled out. Observers can sit in front, separated by plexiglass, and watch.

The exhibit hall is set up with 134 socially distanced stations. Each has room for two election workers and three observers -- one from each party and another member of the public.

Any ballot that's challenged will be brought to a central area where it can be projected on a screen and seen by the public.

"We're sending the feed out in the hall, we're also sending a feed to a stream," said a technician.

Milwaukee County election officials had just days to prepare for the partial recount requested by the president.


"We have gone to every length to make this as transparent as possible," said Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson.

Christenson said aside from the space and the pandemic precautions, the biggest changes from 2016's recount are the threats his staff members have received and the reason for the recount.

"Cherry picking Dane and Milwaukee counties is just an obvious attempt to disenfranchise voters -- people of color," Christenson said.

The Wisconsin Center is under a national spotlight for yet another time this year.

"We're bringing people back in that we've had to basically laid off. Everybody was excited to come back in. Everybody answered their phones and were here first thing in the morning to help set up. Cleaning staff is really happy to come back in and be working up until Thanksgiving," said Tom Nicholson, vice president of event operations for the Wisconsin Center District.

The Wisconsin Center uses hospital grade air filters. Every day of the recount, every inch of the exhibit hall will be cleaned and sanitized.

"You can come into our space and know that we're doing everything we can to be as safe as possible," Nicholson said.

During hours when the recount is underway, between eight and 15 deputies will be at the Wisconsin Center, according to the sheriff's office. If there is any unrest or disruptions, deputies said they are prepared to call for backup.

Clerks and poll workers will work from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with only Thanksgiving day off, until they're done.

The recount will have to be completed by Dec. 1. 

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