On Monday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) informed President Trump that it would cost him $7.9 million for a recount of the state’s votes.
The commission also published the recount timeline. Trump has until 5 p.m. on Wednesday to request a recount, which would begin Thursday and be required to finish by December 1. He is permitted to request a recount as he lost the election by roughly six-tenths of a point, and state law permits a recount if a losing candidate is within one point. But candidates must pay for recounts if the margin of difference is more than 0.25 points.
The cost estimate was derived from information submitted by the 72 counties of the state; the total cost was roughly quadruple what the state’s recount cost in 2016. Election officials explained that the higher cost was due to expenses that would be incurred because of COVID19.
Meagan Wolfe, the state’s chief election official, said, “We still have not received any indication that there will or will not be a recount. But we want Wisconsin’s voters to know we are ready.” She said the additional costs incurred by the pandemic could include less time, as the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, larger spaces so public observation would not be inhibited, security for the larger spaces, more absentee ballots to be counted, and renting high-speed ballot scanning equipment.
“As of midday Monday, 68 of 72 counties had completed certification of the vote. Those results, which include provisional ballots that were counted after Election Day, show that Biden picked up 122 votes and Trump gained 107 statewide so far. The net gain was 15 for Biden,” The Daily Mail reported.
Trump would obtain a refund for the outlay for the recount if the current estimate is too high; in 2016, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein asked for a recount, paid $3.5 million, and then was refunded $1.5 million. “Stein was able to force a recount in 2016 even though she had claimed just a tiny sliver of the vote that year. The recount resulted in a net change of 131 votes, upholding Trump’s win that year over Democrat Hillary Clinton by a margin of about 22,000 votes,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
One example of higher costs: according to Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, the cost for his county would come in at $740,000; the convention center to be used would rent for $88,500. Milwaukee County would reportedly cost over $2 million.
Last week, the WEC stated that if a recount is requested, on Thursday, November 19, the Commission Chair would issue the Recount Order, which would commence the 13-day recount clock. Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. would be the deadline by which county boards of canvassers would have to convene for the recount. Tuesday, December 1, would be the deadline to complete the recount. The same day the WEC would have to certify results from the General Election. Recounts would have to be completed and results filed with the WEC by noon on that day, as Fox 11 reported.
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