(Reuters) – The Wisconsin Elections Commission said on Monday that a statewide vote recount would cost an estimated $7.9 million, money that President Donald Trump’s campaign would have to pay in advance should it request one.
President-elect Joe Biden won the crucial battleground state in the Nov. 3 election by a margin of 0.7 percentage point, or about 20,000 votes, with 99% of ballots counted, according to Edison Research.
Under state law, because the margin of Biden’s win was less than 1% but greater than 0.25%, Trump as the second-place finisher has the right to request a recount, but must first pay to cover the expenses of the operation.
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.
“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.
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.
His campaign has filed a flurry of lawsuits, part of a larger strategy to try to overturn the election results in key battleground states, but has made no headway so far.
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 beat Trump by the same 306-232 margin in the state-by-state Electoral College that prompted Trump to proclaim a “landslide” when he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. 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.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)