Taxpayers could be on the hook for close to $1 million — or more — for a proposed recount of Michigan's presidential election results, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Tuesday.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who took just more than 1% of the presidential vote in the Nov. 8 election, has announced she will request a statewide recount by Wednesday's deadline as a check against possible counting mistakes or fraud.
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Stein is being charged $125 per precinct, a cost originally estimated at $787,500 in total.
But Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas said Monday the actual cost charged to Stein could be around $900,000, based on the final size of the recount and the addition of absentee ballot precincts. Any cost beyond the $125 per precinct would be borne by taxpayers at the county level, he said.
Stein's campaign said in a Tuesday news release it expects to pay a Michigan filing fee of $973,250.
But Tuesday, appearing on the "Paul W. Smith Show" on WJR-AM (760), Johnson estimated the cost will be double what Thomas estimated.
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"I don't think that $900,000 will cover half," Johnson said, though there is no way of knowing for sure, in advance.
"We'll have to see exactly what the cost is."
If the cost was $1.8 million and Stein paid $973,250, taxpayers would be on the hook for close to $827,000, unless Stein is charged more than currently planned. And Johnson suggested the cost could top $1.8 million.
The Michigan Republican Party, which is supporting President-elect Donald Trump in his plan to contest the recount request, has ripped the recount proposal as a waste of money that will not change the outcome. Results certified Monday by the Board of State Canvassers show Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by 10,704 votes, winning Michigan's 16 electoral votes.
"This process is unnecessary," Michigan Republican Party spokeswoman Sara Anderson said Tuesday. "It will be a costly and massive undertaking, for no good reason, if the recount is requested."
Eric Doster, an attorney for the party, said Tuesday he thinks the total cost could be well in excess of $2 million.
With the recount planned to run over the weekend, there will be overtime costs, travel costs, and security costs among other costs not included in current estimates, Republican officials said in a conference call Tuesday.
Midland County Clerk Ann Manary said the recount will cost her county about $10,000, but the county will only be reimbursed about $5,600 from the state.
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, noted Stein received only about 400 votes in Midland County, compared to more than 23,000 for Trump.
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