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Clark County ballot recount would have cost $8,000

Clark County’s share of the costs of a total statewide vote recount would have been $8,000, but that is now moot as the deadline to request one has passed.

In the days following the Nov. 3 general election, President Donald Trump said he would be requesting a full recount as statewide tallies showed he had lost the election to Joe Biden by fewer than 21,000 votes. As the Nov. 18 deadline to request a recount came and went, however, Trump requested one for only Dane and Milwaukee counties, traditional Democratic strongholds where Biden’s margins of victory were significant.

A candidate requesting a recount must pay for it up-front, and all 72 counties in the state provided estimates to the State Elections Commission last week. Clark County Clerk Christina Jensen said her estimate for a full recount of the more than 14,500 ballots cast here that day was $8,000, and the process would have required several full days of work for multiple employees.

The statewide recount total was almost $8 million. The tab for Dane and Milwaukee’s recounts alone was about $3 million, which the Trump campaign paid by Nov. 18.

Jensen said the county’s cost of the full recount conducted following the 2016 presidential election was $5,448. Clerks went through and hand-counted every ballot from every township, village and city, and verified that all absentee ballots had proper voter and witness signatures. The cost would have been higher this year, Jensen said, because there are many more absentee ballots and those take a bit more time to verify.

“It took us about three days to handcount everything,” Jensen said of the 2016 process.

Clerks conducting a recounts have the option of hand-counting ballots or running them through automated votecounting machines, and Jensen said she chose the hand-count method because it’s the surest want to get an accurate number.

“That’s what people want to see,” she said. “They don’t trust the machines.”

Had Trump requested Clark County votes be recounted, the county would have had 13 days to complete the process. However, it would have had to start the work in no fewer than three days.

“We would have had to start tomorrow,” Jensen said on Friday afternoon.

Jensen also noted that the 2016 recount produced almost no change in final results.