Wis. Elections Commission releases recount cost estimates, timeline

Wisconsin’s county clerks submitted on Monday, Nov. 16 cost estimates totaling approximately $7.9 million for a statewide recount, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief election official, issued this statement" 

"We still have not received any indication that there will or will not be a recount. 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 must be paid before any recount can begin.

The Wisconsin Legislature changed state law in 2017 following the 2016 presidential recount to allow the Wisconsin Elections Commission to include its costs in the estimate.

WEC costs are less than $30,000 of the total estimate.  If the estimated costs exceed actual costs, the candidate’s committee will receive a refund for the difference, Wolfe said. 

Last week, the WEC contacted the presidential campaigns to inform them of the procedures for requesting a recount.

Wolfe also announced the potential timeline for a recount, if one is requested.  The timeline permits the recount to be completed and the results to be certified by December 1, 2020. 

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Recount Facts

  • Wisconsin does not have automatic recounts, even if the unofficial results are extremely close. 
  • The second-place candidate must wait to request a recount until after the last county reports its certified results to the state.  This is expected to happen on November 17.
  • For presidential recounts, the aggrieved candidate has just one day to file for a recount.
  • The Wisconsin Legislature changed this deadline from three days to one day following the 2016 presidential recount.
  • According to unofficial results, the margin of victory between the top two presidential candidates is 20,470 votes, or 0.62%, which makes the race eligible for recount if the losing candidate wishes to request one. 
  • Because the margin is more than 0.25%, the aggrieved candidate must prepay the estimated costs of the recount at the time of requesting it.

Complete information about Wisconsin’s recount laws and procedures is available at elections.wi.gov/manuals/recount.

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