If Trump seeks Wisconsin recount, it could cost his campaign nearly $8 million
Estimate to recount La Crosse County ballots is $63,250
MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — A statewide recount of ballots in the presidential election would cost President Donald Trump’s campaign an estimated $7.9 million, including $63,250 for La Crosse County, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission
The commission released the statewide estimate Monday, based on estimates from county clerks, although there is no final word on whether Trump’s campaign will ask for a recount of the results from the Nov. 3 election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is the declared Wisconsin winner, with 1,630,503 votes, compared with President Donald Trump’s 1,610,076. Biden’s total amounts to 49.5 percent of the vote, while Trump’s is 48.8 percent.
The Biden-Trump results, with a difference of 20,427, fall within the 1% margin state law requires for the second-place candidate to qualify to request a recount as an “aggrieved party.” The unofficial spreadsheet itemizing the calculation is on the Wisconsin state website.
“We still have not received any indication that there will or will not be a recount,” said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief election official. “But we want Wisconsin’s voters to know we are ready.”
Part of that readiness includes collecting recount cost estimates from all 72 counties and assembling a statewide estimate, which the Trump campaign would need to pay before any recount can begin.
“Our county clerks have carefully estimated their costs for recounting 3.2 million ballots, which is approximately $7.9 million,” Wolfe said.
The estimates are much higher than the actual costs of the 2016 recount, Wolfe said, adding, “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 time frame over a holiday, and renting high-speed ballot scanning equipment.”
La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer’s estimate of $63,250 includes $55,000 for the board of canvassers and tabulators; $500 for legal expenses; $250 for travel; $1,000 for supplies, including PPE protection from COVID-19, $1,000 for IT expenses and $5,000 for meals.
Estimates from other area counties are:
• Buffalo: $10,366.56
• Chippewa: $48,870
• Dunn: $60,112.68
• Eau Claire: $54,550
• Grant: $72,679.79
• Iowa: $31,412.93
• Jackson: $7,000
• Lafayette: $16,800
• Monroe: $60,181
• Trempealeau: $34,080
• Vernon: $14,070.
If the estimated costs exceed actual costs, the candidate’s committee will receive a refund for the difference, Wolfe said.
Wolfe also announced the potential timeline for a recount, if one is requested. The schedule permits the recount to be completed and the results to be certified by Dec. 1.
The timeline is:
• Tuesday, Nov. 17: Final county canvass is to be received. Several counties are outstanding, and some have indicated they won’t be done by Nov. 17.
• Wednesday, Nov. 18 – The deadline for the aggrieved presidential candidate to file for a recount and submit payment is 5 p.m.
• Thursday, Nov. 19 — Commission chairman issues a recount order, which starts the 13-day recount clock and is also the first day that recount boards can meet.
• Saturday, Nov. 21 — This is the deadline by which county boards of canvassers must convene for the recount (no later than 9 a.m. on the third day after the recount order is issued).
• Tuesday, Dec. 1 — This is the deadline to complete the recount. It also is the deadline for the WEC to certify results from the General Election.
Wolfe acknowledged that the deadline will be difficult to navigate but noted that state law does not account for the many challenges on the calendar, including the Thanksgiving holiday.