RACINE -- $3.5 million is the estimated cost to recount the November 8 presidential election in Wisconsin. As it stands, President-elect Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by about 22,000 votes in Wisconsin. Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who is requesting and presumably paying for the recount, got barely one percent of the vote.
Stein must pay the fee to the Wisconsin Elections Commission by Tuesday, November 29 in order to initiate a recount. That recount would begin in all 72 counties on Thursday, December 1st. It must be completed by December 12th because the next day is the federal deadline for states to submit their Electoral College electors.
The estimated $3.5 million is three times the amount of the Green Party's initial estimate of $1.1 million. By Monday night, the campaign said it had raised $6.4 million. As for how the recount would be conducted, that remains an open question.
90,000 ballots were stacked up at the Racine County Clerk's Office Monday.
Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen has previously overseen three recounts. If she was stressed by the prospect of a fourth recount - and one with the highest stakes possible - Chrsistensen did not show it.
"You didn`t see me a couple hours ago," she replied.
As of Monday, officials with the Wisconsin Elections Commission said they're letting each clerk decide how to recount the ballots.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said his office would do it by hand.
"The savings of time is not certain. That`s one. And two, the accusation being made is that the machines were hacked. The benefit of a hand count is that you show that`s false," McDonell said.
Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said a hand recount could jeopardize meeting that December 12th deadline.
"Obviously, if you do a hand recount, we`d need a lot more room than if we just do a machine recount," Czarnezki said.
In Racine County, this recount would be Christensen's fourth -- the most recent being the 2012 Wisconsin Senate recall election. She said she was planning on having receipts from touchscreen machines recounted by hand while putting the rest of the ballots though vote-counting machines. She says that would be considerably faster than counting everything by hand.
"When you`re relying on people to count instead of a machine that`s used to reading an arrow, basically, it can take multiple times to get an accurate count and that takes time," Christensen said.
There may not be a choice, however.
Jill Stein and the Green Party filed suit in Dane County Monday, asking a judge to order every ballot be recounted by hand.
“The prospect of a recount performed with “automatic tabulating equipment” – the same equipment Ms. Stein’s recount petition explained may have been attacked by foreign government agents seeking to interfere in the presidential race – risks tainting the recount process,” read a portion of the petition.
Christensen, Czarnezki and McDonell said since voting machines are not connected to the internet, a foreign hack is extremely unlikely.
Christensen said if the recount must be done by hand, it will be rough, but she can handle it.
"We will work longer hours and either find more space or more people or bring more people into my office," Christensen said, "We will make it work."
As of Monday, Christensen said she's preparing for her staff to work at least 12 hours a day on each of the 12 days clerks' offices would have to conduct the recount.