Wisconsin recount could cost Trump campaign about $7.9m

The amount includes extra funds for larger spaces required for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump in Wisconsin
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Central Wisconsin Airport, in Mosinee, Wisconsin [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

The Wisconsin Elections Commission said on Monday that a statewide vote recount would cost an estimated $7.9m, money that President Donald Trump’s campaign would have to pay in advance should it request one.

The bill is more than the $2m former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein paid for a recount.

President-elect Joe Biden won the crucial battleground state in the November 3 election by a margin of 0.7 percentage point, or about 20,000 votes, with 99 percent of ballots counted, according to Edison Research.

Trump has yet to concede in the race and is filing legal challenges to the outcome.

“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,” Trump 2020 legal adviser Jenna Ellis said when asked if the campaign would move ahead with a petition for a recount.

Under state law, because the margin of Biden’s win was less than 1 percent but greater than 0.25 percent, Trump as the second-place finisher has the right to request a recount, but must first pay to cover the expenses of the operation.

US ballot counting
Poll workers Erin Keleske and Brett Rohlwing use a tabulator machine to process absentee ballots the night of Election Day at Milwaukee Central Count in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US [Bing Guan/Reuters]

Wisconsin’s chief election official, Meagan Wolfe, said in a statement that county clerks had, as required by law, carefully estimated their costs for recounting Wisconsin’s 3.2 million ballots

“We still have not received any indication that there will or will not be a recount,” Wolfe said.

She said the cost estimate was “significantly higher” than the actual costs of the 2016 recount there because it included extra funds for larger spaces required for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as security for those spaces, and a greater number of absentee ballots.

Since Biden, a Democrat, clinched victory in the election, the Republican president has refused to concede and has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that there was widespread voter fraud.

Election officials from both parties have said there is no evidence of major irregularities, and federal election security officials have decried “unfounded claims” and expressed “utmost confidence” in the election’s integrity.

Biden leads Trump by a 290-232 margin in the state-by-state Electoral College, with Georgia’s 16 votes due to be allocated after a recount. Biden was projected to hold a narrow lead in the southern state when the secretary of state ordered the audit last week.

Biden also won the national popular vote by at least 5.5 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points, with some ballots still being counted.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies