Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s quest to recount Michigan’s 4.8 million ballots in an unprecedented autopsy of a presidential election could cost taxpayers more than $4 million.
Stein formally requested Wednesday a hand recount of the state’s presidential election, a labor-intensive undertaking that is expected to begin Friday morning and could result in marathon counting sessions until the Dec. 13 deadline.
Republican President-elect Donald Trump won by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, getting 47.5 percent of the vote to the former secretary of state’s 47.27 percent. Stein received 51,463 votes or about 1.1 percent.
The Green Party nominee’s attorneys left a $973,250 check at the state Bureau of Elections to cover Stein’s legally required fees for seeking a recount of 6,300 precincts.While the total cost of the recount is not yet known, it is estimated to be at least $3 million and as much as $12 million:
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Wednesday the recount cost could total $5 million, leaving the state and county governments on the hook for the remaining $4 million.
Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel blasted the request as a “reckless attempt to undermine the will” of Michigan’s voters. She noted Stein and her lawyer, Mark Brewer, have provided no evidence of vote fraud.
“Jill Stein made her 1 percent temper tantrum official and will waste millions of Michigan taxpayers’ dollars, and has acknowledged that the recount will not change anything regarding the presidential election,” McDaniel said.
Cost estimates for the recount have varied wildly between Johnson’s estimate of up to $3 million to Michigan GOP attorney Eric Doster’s estimate of $12 million, the cost of a full statewide election.While recounts are useful and necessary tools for checking the accuracy of election results in close races, where no fraud or irregularities are suspected (as in North Carolina's gubernatorial race recount where irregularities have been found or are suspected in several counties), they can be misused as a political and publicity tool at the expense of taxpayers' funds and local election officials' time. Such misuse is, unfortunately, the case with the Michigan recount.