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Milwaukee County spent nearly $1.7M on presidential recount

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Milwaukee County presidential election 2020 recount, AP generic file photo

Election workers, right, verify ballots as recount observers, left, watch during a Milwaukee hand-recount of presidential votes at the Wisconsin Center. The recount of the presidential election in Wisconsin’s two most heavily Democratic counties began Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 with President Donald Trump’s campaign seeking to discard tens of thousands of absentee ballots that it alleged should not have been counted.

The presidential recount in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County came in slightly under budget, at nearly $1.7 million, according to data released Wednesday.

George Christensen, the clerk of the state’s largest county, released numbers that show it spent $1.69 million on its recount, with nearly a third of that — $550,450 — going to rent space for the effort.

Christensen said the county had expected the recount would cost a little more than $2 million.

President Donald Trump’s campaign paid $3 million in advance for recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, which are Democratic strongholds. Trump lost Wisconsin to Democrat Joe Biden by 0.6 of a percentage point.

Under state law, losing candidates can request recounts but must pay the cost upfront if they lose by more than 0.25 of one percentage point. The recounts resulted in a slightly larger lead for Biden.

The counties are required to calculate the actual costs and are supposed to be reimbursed from Trump’s payment.

If the costs come in below estimates, excess funds are supposed to go back to Trump’s campaign. Dane County’s final cost was about $729,700, which was about $10,000 less than anticipated.

Republicans who control the Legislature’s finance committee have refused to release any of the Trump campaign’s money to the counties because an unnamed member objected to any transfer.

Co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Mark Born have said the committee will meet to discuss reimbursements, but they haven’t said when.

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