Recount Will Be at Wisconsin Center, Streamed Live
Just where does that $2 million go? We examine.
Milwaukee County’s presidential election recount will start Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. A total of 460,300 ballots will be recounted.
Each of the county’s 19 municipalities will recount their ballots in the 188,000-square-foot exhibition hall at the Wisconsin Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave.
President Donald Trump‘s campaign requested a recount of just Milwaukee and Dane counties, the state’s two largest counties, and wired $3 million to the state to initiate the process. Joe Biden currently leads Trump by 20,608 votes across Wisconsin and 182,913 votes in Milwaukee County. A 2016 statewide recount changed the presidential results by just 131 votes.
Registered observers will be allowed to observe the process first-hand, as will members of the public.
The process, which will start each day at 9 a.m. and recess at 5 p.m., will be streamed live online for those that are sick or do not wish to watch the process in person.
Henry said every municipality but Milwaukee is expected to finish in one day. Eight municipalities will start on Friday.
The recount is required to be completed by December 1st. The only off day will be Thanksgiving, November 26th.
Preparation work will begin Thursday morning when ballots, stored in sealed bags, will be transported with sheriff escort from the county courthouse to the Wisconsin Center. Deputy sheriffs will guard the ballots around-the-clock until the recount is complete.
The elections director said a recommendation, to be adopted at the start of the process, will be to process the ballots through high-speed counting machines used by the city at its central county facility. Municipalities with wards slated to be audited will be recommended to count those ballots by hand.
What Costs $2 Million?
Recounting the ballots isn’t cheap, with a statewide effort formally estimated to cost $7.9 million.
Milwaukee County’s portion of the recount is estimated to cost $2 million, with each municipality being reimbursed for its staff time and accessory costs. Costs per municipality range from $933.60 for the Village of River Hills to $263,250 for the City of Milwaukee, including over $150,000 to use its tabulation equipment.
The actual labor costs, $162,031.60, are estimated to be less than the cost of food.
Christenson said that the county didn’t have a legal obligation to be good stewards of the Trump campaign’s money, but said it was doing so in its planning. He said one example is the video streaming plan was reduced from $1.1 million to $400,000 after a bid came in. “I’m pretty thrifty. I grew up in West Allis,” said the clerk.
He said the larger facility was necessary to accommodate the large crowd expected and the need to maintain a physical distance between people during the pandemic.
All of the municipal expenses are reimbursable, with unspent funds required to be returned to the Trump campaign.
The city’s high-speed counting equipment, DS-850 and DS-450 machines from ESS, will be transported to the convention center Thursday afternoon. The city will receive $150,750 for rental of nine machines, an amount it states in a report is half the cost of private rental. Each of the DS-850 machines, some of which the city just purchased with a federal grant, cost over $100,000 each.
Officials Blast Trump
The allegations made without evidence by the Trump campaign that the counties were selected because they had the greatest number of irregularities were panned by Christenson and Mayor Tom Barrett.
“Don’t let anybody fool you that this is about irregularities; this is flat-out an attack on democracy and cities and places where people of color live,” said Barrett.
“Essentially the plan by the Trump campaign is to throw as much paint on the wall and see what sticks,” said the clerk. “It will show that everything was done by the book.”
“It’s not surprising after a failed presidency, after a failed campaign, that the Trump campaign would now seek to have what will soon be a failed recount effort. It’s a very futile attempt to disrupt democracy in the most Democratic counties in the state of Wisconsin,” said Barrett.
“The effort to recount votes specifically in MKE County, without evidence of massive improprieties or fraud, is a blatant attempt to negate the voices of WI most diverse voting bloc. Votes here count just like the rest of the state and no baseless claims of fraud will change that,” tweeted Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.
More information on the recount will be available following a scheduled Thursday afternoon press briefing.
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