Wisconsin Recount Would Cost Trump Campaign $7.9 Million: Elections Commission

Election officials count absentee ballots in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Nov. 4, 2020. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
BY ISABEL VAN BRUGEN

A recount of unofficial results in the state of Wisconsin would cost President Donald Trump $7.9 million upfront, the Wisconsin Elections Commission said Monday.

The Trump campaign on Nov. 7 took steps to seek a statewide recount after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was declared the projected winner in the state by his campaign and several news outlets on Nov 4.

Biden has more than a 20,000-vote lead over Trump in Wisconsin, according to The Associated Press and Decision Desk. According to the unofficial results, Biden has 49.5 percent of the vote, while Trump has 48.9 percent. A trailing candidate is allowed to seek a recount under state law if the margin of a race is within 1 percentage point.

Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official, said Monday that the estimated cost of a statewide recount will be $7.9 million. The cost estimate was based on costs submitted by the state’s 72 counties.

The last time a recount was conducted in Wisconsin, in 2016, it cost $2 million. Wolfe said the higher cost is due to conducting a recount during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

“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,” Wolfe said.

“We still have not received any indication that there will or will not be a recount,” Wolfe added. “But we want Wisconsin’s voters to know we are ready.”

The Trump campaign has until 5 p.m. on Nov. 18 to file a request for the recount, which could then begin as soon as Nov. 19 and must be completed by no later than Dec. 1.

Jenna Ellis, Trump 2020 legal adviser, said in an emailed statement, “The legal team continues to examine the issues with irregularities in Wisconsin and are leaving all legal options open, including a recount and an audit.”

Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, said on Nov. 7 that his team would initiate a recount because of “irregularities” in the Nov. 3 election process, while asserting the team is “very concerned about what we’re hearing and seeing.” He didn’t elaborate.

“There were some serious irregularities on Election Day that we are looking into. We’ve already announced that we’re going to seek a statewide recount in Wisconsin, and we plan to do so,” Clark said in a statement, as reported by the Washington Examiner. “We expect that the canvass, the initial canvass will be done Monday [Nov. 9] or Tuesday [Nov. 10]. And then that process will begin.”

Canvassing is the process where states certify the unofficial results—typically reported on by news outlets—and make the results official.

“The purpose of the canvass is to account for every ballot cast and to ensure that each valid vote is included in the official election results. The canvass enables an election official to resolve discrepancies, correct errors, and take any remedial actions necessary to ensure completeness and accuracy before certifying the election,” the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s website says.

Scott Walker, the state’s former Republican governor, said he doubts a recount will change the outcome of the state, which has 16 Electoral College votes.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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