U.S. President Donald Trump will have to pay $ 7.9 million if he wants a statewide recount of unofficial results in Wisconsin showing him losing to Democrat Joe Biden by around 20,500 votes.
This is four times higher than what the recount cost four years ago, an increase in costs that election officials said was due to expenses related to performing a recount during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wisconsin Election Commission released the estimate on Monday, which was based on costs submitted by the 72 counties. The recount could start on Thursday and be done no later than December 1.
“We still haven’t received any indication as to whether or not there will be a recount,” said Meagan Wolfe, chief of state elections official. “But we want Wisconsin voters to know we’re ready.”
Trump made unsubstantiated allegations of voting irregularities and fraud, even though Wisconsin election officials said no irregularities or widespread problems were reported. Trump has raised money on the planned recount and has indicated he is moving forward, even if Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes would not be enough to change the outcome of the race.
Trump’s Wisconsin campaign spokeswoman Anna Kelly did not immediately return a message asking for comment on the estimated cost.
Recounts are not automatic under Wisconsin law. But any losing candidate who is within one point of the winner can claim one. Trump lost about six tenths of a point, based on unofficial results. Candidates must pay the recounts if they are more than 0.25 point behind the winner.
The counties had until Tuesday to certify the election results. Assuming the latest county inquiry is not filed until Tuesday as scheduled, Trump would then have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to request the recount.
As of noon Monday, 68 of 72 counties had completed certification of the vote. Those results, which include provisional ballots that were counted after election day, show Biden garnered 122 votes and Trump has won 107 statewide so far. The net gain was 15 for Biden.
A schedule for the recount released by the state electoral commission said the order to start it could be released on Thursday. Counties would have until Saturday to begin the recount, which is expected to be done before noon on December 1.
In 2016, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein paid $ 3.5 million up front for the recount. It ended up costing $ 2 million and she was reimbursed $ 1.5 million.
Trump could also be reimbursed for part of the cost if the estimate is too high. It could also decide to do a recount only in certain counties, which would also reduce costs.
Wolfe said the higher cost this year was due to factors caused by the pandemic that were not an issue at the time, such as the need for larger spaces to allow for public viewing and distancing social security, the safety of these spaces, the higher number of absenteeism ballots, a compression during the Thanksgiving holiday period and the rental of high-speed ballot scanning equipment.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said the recount will cost $ 740,000 and take place at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, located just down the street from the city-county building. Renting this space, which allows greater distance between workers, costs $ 88,500, McDonell said.
Milwaukee County had the highest estimated cost at just over $ 2 million. Of this amount, $ 649,600 was intended for the rental of premises for this recount.
The state election commission, which is also authorized to charge recount fees, estimated its expenses at $ 30,000.
Separately on Monday, three voters who filed a federal complaint last week seeking to exclude certain ballots in Milwaukee, Dane and Menominee counties withdrew their complaints. Lawyer James Bopp said he couldn’t say why due to attorney-client privilege. Voters had alleged widespread fraud in the postal ballot.
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