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Wisconsin recount estimated to cost nearly $8 million dollars

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 2:19 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2020 at 3:19 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Although there has not been a recount request, Wisconsin’s Elections Commission is estimating the cost to be $7.9 million.

President Donald Trump would need to pay that amount to the state, since there was more than a 0.25 percent difference between the number of votes President-Elect Joe Biden received.

Unofficial tallies showed Biden leading Trump by about 0.6 percent, or about 20,500 votes.

“Our county clerks have carefully estimated their costs for recounting 3.2 million ballots, which is approximately $7.9 million,” says Meagan Wolfe, Elections Commission Administrator. “These estimates are significantly higher than the actual costs of the 2016 recount, but they take into account factors not present four years ago, including the need for larger spaces to permit public observation and social distancing, security for those spaces, the higher number of absentee ballots, a compressed timeframe over a holiday, and renting high-speed ballot scanning equipment.”

The last county canvass will be received on Tuesday. There are several counties that are outstanding and some have indicated they will not be finished before Nov. 17.

On Wednesday. President Trump has until 5 p.m. to file a recount and submit payment.

The recount would be scheduled to begin Thursday and end Dec. 1.

2016 Recount

Green Party candidate Jill Stein finished fourth, getting just one percent of the vote in the 2016 election and pushed for a recount. She alleged, without evidence, voting machines could have been hacked.

The cost to recount roughly 2.9 million ballots was slightly more than $2 million, about $1.5 million less than originally estimated. Stein was refunded the difference.

After the recount, Trump’s margin of victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton increased by 131 votes. The original margin between the top two candidates following the county canvass was 22,617. After the recount, the margin was 22,748.

Former Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen said the 2016 recount revealed no evidence of any hacking.

Stein said after the recount was completed that the goal was never to change the outcome, but to validate the vote and restore confidence in the voting system.

The Wisconsin Legislature changed state law following the recount.

Under the law, signed by Gov. Scott Walker, candidates could request a recount only if they lost by one percentage point or less in an election. The law also shortens the deadline to one day after the last county certifies its total. It was originally three days.

It also adds expenses from the Wisconsin Elections Commission to the overall bill to the campaign requesting the recount. For the 2020 Presidential Election, the commission’s costs are less than $30,000 of the total estimate.

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