Wisconsin Elections Commission
Press Release

Wisconsin Elections Commission Releases Presidential Election Recount Cost Estimate of $3.5 million

Wisconsin’s 72 County Clerks expect to hire thousands of temporary workers to assist the county boards of canvassers in recounting the ballots.

By - Nov 28th, 2016 04:39 pm
Jill Stein. Photo courtesy of Jill Stein for President.

Jill Stein. Photo courtesy of Jill Stein for President.

MADISON, WI – The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission has given a recount cost estimate of nearly $3.5 million to the campaigns of Green Party candidate Jill Stein and independent candidate Rocky Roque De La Fuente.

For the recount to go forward, one or both of the candidates will have to pay $3,499,689 to the Commission by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Commission Administrator Michael Haas. Both recount petitioners have been advised of the cost estimate.

At a meeting earlier today, the Commission directed staff to assess the full estimated recount fee to both petitioning candidates unless the candidates each submit payment for one-half of the total estimated cost.

“County Clerks have done their best to estimate the actual costs of conducting a large recount in a relatively short time,” said Haas. “The estimates may vary widely as some clerks may not have been able to precisely identify their estimated costs in the short time available to them. If the estimate turns out to be too high, the campaign will receive a refund. If the estimate is too low, they will have to pay the additional cost.”

Wisconsin’s 72 County Clerks expect to hire thousands of temporary workers to assist the county boards of canvassers in recounting the ballots. They also expect to be working extra hours and weekends to finish the recount by 8 p.m. Monday, December 12, the deadline established by the Commission today.  The Commission will certify results by 3 p.m. Tuesday, December 13.

A spreadsheet containing each county’s estimate is attached to this news release.

Video from Wisconsin Eye’s coverage of today’s Commission meeting and news conference is available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gamu_45FV8w.  During the meeting and Q&A session, many questions about recount costs were addressed.

The Commission’s role in a recount is to order the recount, to provide legal guidance to the counties during the recount, and to certify the results.  If the candidates disagree with the results of the recount, the law gives them the right to appeal in circuit court within five business days after the recount is completed.  The circuit court is where issues are resolved that may be discovered during the recount but are not resolved to the satisfaction of the candidates.

Wisconsin’s Recount Manual and comprehensive information about past recounts, including the last statewide recount in the 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court election, are available here: http://elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/recount.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is responsible for administration and enforcement of election laws in Wisconsin.  The Commission is made up of six Commissioners – four appointed directly by the State Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the Assembly and the Minority Leaders in the State Senate and Assembly.  The remaining two Commissioners are by the Governor with confirmation by the State Senate from lists of former municipal and county clerks submitted by the legislative leadership in each party.

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11 thoughts on “Wisconsin Elections Commission Releases Presidential Election Recount Cost Estimate of $3.5 million”

  1. Happyjack27 says:

    Estimates on things like this are invariably high.

    Not only “better safe than sorry”, but to account for the unanticipated.

    Having said that? I suspect this is ballpark.

  2. Joe says:

    That’s over a dollar per vote. Even if the temporary workers are making $12/hour, is it really plausible to suggest that someone can’t properly examine more than 12 votes in one hour?

  3. Joe says:

    Interesting that Columbia County, with a population of 56,000, estimates a cost of $126,000. Meanwhile Dane County has 9 times the population and can hand count their votes for just 2.5 times the cost.

  4. happyjack27 says:

    Maybe Columbia should just send their ballots over to Dane.

  5. happyjack27 says:

    Judging by the two prices listed when there’s the option of optical scan or hand count, the actual manual labor of hand counting is only about 1/3rd of the total cost. Presumably the other 2+ million dollars is “overhead”.

  6. Joe says:

    Jefferson County (42,324 votes): $131,500.00 estimate.
    LaCrosse County (62,785 votes): $ 12,000.00 estimate.

    Looks to me like the Jefferson County Clerk doesn’t want this recount to happen. Big surprise that it’s an overwhelmingly Republican county.

  7. happyjack27 says:

    Lafayette county is charging 15 cents per person (total population).

    Oneida is charging 5 dollars per person.

    At about 0.5 votes per person, that comes out to 30 cents per ballot counted in Lafayette, and $10 per ballot counted in Oneida.

  8. happyjack27 says:

    Menominee county, with a population of 4,573 people, is charging $200. That’s 4 cents per person, or about 8 cents per ballot.

    Where every other county to give Menominee their ballots, and have them count them, the total cost would be $252,380.

  9. happyjack27 says:

    Milwaukee’s official vote tally is 247,836 votes.
    They are estimating $537,734.14.
    That’s $2.16 per vote.
    The tabulation method is listed as “optical scan”.

    If a single person scanned at the relatively slow pace of 1 ballot every 10 seconds, they’d be scanning 600 ballots an hour.
    After a full 40 hour work week, they’d have scanned 24,000 ballots, and presumably made $51,976.39 – a rather respectable year’s salary.
    It would take them about 10 and a half weeks to scan every ballot.

  10. Joe says:

    What does this tell us? Are these counties trying to pad their budgets with a hostage scenario? Or are they trying to avoid a recount?

    I suppose it could be both.

  11. happyjack27 says:

    Presumably Onieda County is buying their entire population a round of drinks – regardless of whether they’re of legal drinking age or not.

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