MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) – Jill Stein’s Green Party wired the state nearly $3.5 million Tuesday afternoon before the 4:30 p.m. deadline to begin the Wisconsin recount.
Shortly after that payment was received, a hearing began in Dane County court to decide how the Wisconsin presidential recount will be carried out.
Stein and Reform Party candidate Rocky De La Feunte filed last week for a recount. Stein’s campaign asked for the count to be done exclusively by hand because the reasoning behind the recount is what Stein calls “statistical anomalies” in results where voters used electronic voting machines. The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) denied that request Monday, saying state law gives clerks the power to decide how to recount the ballots — especially in light of the number of votes that need to be counted before the federal deadline of December 13. Stein’s campaign responded with a civil lawsuit to seek a court order requiring a hand count.
Attorneys for Stein’s campaign are expected to call several witnesses to support their claim that the state’s voting machines could have been compromised — that hackers might have launched a cyber attack or planted malicious software that changed the outcome of the race.
A University of Michigan professor who’s an expert on cyber security testified that it’s possible and that the Wisconsin Elections Commission doesn’t have enough protocols in place to prevent hacking.
The elections commission has said there’s no evidence of hacking or voter fraud, and that a hand recount would take a long time and a lot of people to do it.
The Dane County circuit court judge said the hearing could go late Tuesday night and she might not issue a ruling until Wednesday.
Tuesday afternoon the WEC confirmed it made a calculation error when it added up the estimates from county clerks on how much the recount would cost in their county. The elections commission should have quoted $3.9 million — it was off by $400,000.
The WEC says regardless of its mistake, Stein will have to pay whatever the total cost is. For now, the campaign was only required to pay the $3.5 million that was quoted.
If the actually cost comes in higher, her campaign will have to pay the difference; if the cost comes in lower, the campaign will be refunded the difference.
Until the counties have actual costs, not estimates, the state will hold all of the money. That’s causing some concern for Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg, who says the county will likely spend $30,000 on the recount.
While state statute says the county will be reimbursed, there’s no timeline for the county to get its money.
“My election canvassers and board of canvass will expect payment, of course, and I’m expecting that money will be spent out before it’s coming back in,” Freiberg said.
“It’s laid out in statutes. I don’t know the exact timeline when it will happen, but they’ll have to actually submit costs to us and we will pay them as soon as we can,” the WEC’s Reid Magney said.
That means the money will come out of the county’s budget, which is paid for by taxpayers until the reimbursement is received.
The Green Party was also raising money for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania.