Questions about how much the Michigan recount will cost were raised again after Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a court action seeking to stop the recount, partially on the basis that it would cost taxpayers “millions of dollars.” Just how much will the Michigan recount cost? Estimates have ranged from $1 million up to $5 million.
Here’s what you need to know.
On Friday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, filed a lawsuit to stop the recount before it begins. This came shortly after President-Elect Donald Trump had filed a suit seeking to stop the recount, and a deadlocked Michigan elections board allowed the recount proceed.
Schuette’s lawsuit alleges that the recount has no chance of changing the results and the recount is frivolous because Jill Stein waited three weeks to file it — too close to the deadline to get the results to the Electoral College. He claimed that Stein was not an aggrieved party since she had no chance of getting any electoral votes and, thus, did not have standing to file the suit. He also stated that the recount should be done electronically and not by hand, since a recount done by hand would have no chance of being completed before the December 13 Electoral College deadline.
In his lawsuit, Schuette also claimed that a recount done by hand would cost taxpayers millions of dollars. On November 29, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson had said that a hand recount of all 4.8 million votes could cost as much as $2 million. However, in an article released by The Detroit News on December 1, Johnson stated that a recount could cost as much as $5 million. The final costs depends on how much it costs to hire recount staff, recruit volunteers, rent conference room space for the recount, and how long the recount takes to finish.
Meanwhile, Eric Doster, general counsel for the Michigan Republican Party, thinks the $2 million estimate is low. Because a statewide election costs $10 to $12 million, he doesn’t see how a recount wouldn’t cost much more than $2 million, Detroit News reported.
Jill Stein has raised $6.8 million so far to cover the costs of recounts in three states. According to her website, the filing fee for a Michigan recount was $975,000. This did not, however, include attorney’s fees and costs involved in bringing on observers in all three states. She estimated the total cost in all three states, including fees and observers, would be $9 to $10 million.
It’s unclear what portion of the extra costs involved in actually performing the Michigan recount will be covered by Stein’s fund vs. covered by Michigan taxpayers. If the $6.8 million raised is divided among three states, with filing fees being much higher in some states than others, it’s unlikely her current total will cover all the costs of a recount in Michigan alone.
So far, Stein has only delivered a $973,250 check to the Michigan Bureau of Elections to cover filing fees. The Detroit News reported that the rest of the costs, up to $4 million, might be left to state and city governments and taxpayers. Jessica Clarke, an attorney for Jill Stein, told Detroit News that Stein’s campaign might still cover more costs of the Michigan recount, but did not elaborate on just how much more:
Right now, no one knows what the cost of the recount is going to be,” Clarke said. “Our intent is to do what we can to cover the cost of the recount.”