August 2020 primary ballot

A ballot from Wisconsin's August primary. 

(The Center Square) – The Wisconsin Elections Commission says it will cost $7.9 million to count the ballots a second time. That is four times what it cost to recount the ballots in 2016.

Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe said the coronavirus is to blame. 

“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 time frame over a holiday, and renting high-speed ballot scanning equipment,” Wolfe said in a statement. 

President Donald Trump’s campaign said after Election Day that it planned to ask for a recount in Wisconsin. The campaign has until 5 p.m. Wednesday to make that request. 

Wolfe said she did not hear from the Trump campaign on Monday. 

Joe Biden has a 20,427 vote lead over Trump, according to Wisconsin’s unofficial vote totals.

If the president does request a recount, Wolfe said local election managers would have to convene no later than Sunday to begin their recount. Any recount is scheduled to end by Dec. 1, which is the same day Wisconsin is set to certify its vote. 

Wolfe said the high price tag is not her choice. 

“Our county clerks have carefully estimated their costs for recounting 3.2 million ballots, which is approximately $7.9 million,” she added. 

Wisconsin changed the law in 2017 to make sure taxpayers didn’t get stuck with the bill for frivolous recounts. That law is what is being used to calculate the costs this year.

 

The Center Square Correspondent

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.