MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin’s presidential recount, which produced very few changes to the Election Night tally, is on pace to cost about half of the original $3.9 million estimate.
With 69 of the 72 counties reporting, the actual cost is a little more than $1.8 million, according to data provided to FOX6 News by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Green Party candidate Jill Stein paid $3.5 million up front for the recount and would be in line for a refund from the state.
"(What to do with the surplus) will be decided by all of the donors," Stein said during an interview in Milwaukee, before a scheduled Tuesday rally in Madison. "We intend to fund ongoing efforts, like in Wisconsin, the effort to ensure we have legislative reforms so we’re not voting on tamper-friendly machines."
On Monday, Stein left open the possibility of filing a lawsuit against Wisconsin if state officials didn't implement changes such as automatic hand-recounts in close races.
Fifty-six counties overestimated their recount costs, while 13 underestimated, according to the Elections Commission data.
Iron County was the closest to its estimate – the recount cost just 69 cents more than the $700 predicted in the tiny northern Wisconsin municipality. In Oneida County, election officials expected the recount would cost $178,000 but reported actual costs of just $9,117.62.
Milwaukee County reported preliminary actual costs of $287,782.53, about half of its original $536,734.14 estimate. Waukesha County predicted $278,978 and came in at $267,271.25.
Kenosha, Brown and Pierce counties have not yet reported, but Elections Administrator Mike Haas said he expects their final numbers this week. Combined, clerks in the three counties had expected the recount to cost around $500,000.
State elections officials promised to reimburse the Stein campaign if the recount ended up costing less than the estimate provided by the county clerks. The recount finished in mid-December, but the Elections Commission gave clerks time to submit costs for mileage, recount volunteers, overtime and other expenses.
The recount showed President-elect Donald Trump won Wisconsin by 131 more votes than his winning margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton on Election Night.
Stein said she scheduled Tuesday's rally in Madison because "we have a lot of unhappy campers out there" about the election process. She cidn't visit Wisconsin during the recount.
"During the recount – it’s not as though I would’ve been an extra pair of hands here," Stein said. "There were thousands of volunteers, and we had three states in which we were running recounts."
Wisconsin was the only state to finish a statewide recount. Courts halted a similar process in Michigan and blocked a recount from starting in Pennsylvania.
Stein said the process was not an accurate check on the Wisconsin voting system.
"The system is just full of holes," Stein said. "Almost half the votes were so-called 'recounted' by inserting them into these very fallible machines that are wide open to human error, machine error, hacking and tampering."
Twenty-one counties, including Milwaukee and Waukesha, used machines to recount at least some of their ballots. Clerks who relied on machines said it would simply take too long to hand-count every ballot.
Some Republicans have called for changes to state law, seeking to prohibit future recount requests from candidates like Stein, who finished a distant fourth place in Wisconsin's presidential race.
"Recounts are not for candidates. Recounts are for voters," Stein responded. And recounts should be automatic if races are extremely close or if there are red flags for tampering or hacking or corruption of the vote," Stein said.