Vote recount ordered by Jill Stein likely to cost MI taxpayers

generic voting voters voting machine


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Green Party Candidate Jill Stein will challenge the vote count in Michigan – an effort that will likely cost taxpayers.

Monday, the same day the Board of State Canvassers certified President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in Michigan, an attorney for Stein told the board they’ll ask for a recount.

That could become a major challenge as the country moves toward an Electoral College vote in December. Election staff will begin the painstaking task of counting each ballot by hand as early as Friday, leading to overtime and Sunday work shifts, according to state elections director Chris Thomas.

The federal deadline for the ballot count is Dec. 13, six days before the Electoral College meets.

Board of State Canvassers
The Board of State Canvassers meet in Lansing to certify the Nov. 8 election results. (Nov. 28, 2016)

“Anytime you have a 10-day period, 10, 12 day period to do a statewide recount, there’s a lot of things that hopefully will not go wrong. It’s going to have to move right along. So yeah, we have concerns,” said Thomas.

Under law, the ballots must be counted by workers at the county level. But state elections officials have to be on hand for those counts.

“That’s the thing. We don’t have 83 people in the Bureau of Elections. So we’re strategizing how to make use of our staff in a limited amount of time,” said Michigan Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams.

In Kent County alone, more than 300,000 ballots must be recounted by hand, according to county clerk Mary Hollinrake.

“It’s a very large endeavor to hand count this many ballots in Kent County,” Hollinrake said.

She says the county will hire up to 45 workers to handle the tedious job of sifting through ballots casted in its 491 precincts.

“From the time we start we do not finish, meaning we do not take a day off. If we start on Thursday, it will go through the weekend. It’ll go through whatever weekend it takes to finish this,” Hollinrake said.

In Ottawa County, clerk Justin Roebuck says roughly 145,000 ballots will need to be recounted by hand. His county will need to hire at least 30 people in addition to its staff and Board of Canvassers to handle the job.

As for who picks up the bill, the first $800,000 will be paid for by the Stein campaign. However, state election officials estimate the final cost could add another $100,000 to the price tag, which taxpayers will likely have to cover.

One factor that could delay the process would be a challenge by Trump. That move would stop the recount and push the deadline past the Electoral College vote on Dec. 19.

Thomas says precedent set by the Supreme Court in Florida’s disputed 2000 election would stop the Michigan recount.

“It stopped the process right there, so we’ll see. That’s a legal issue. I’m not the one who’s going to make the final call on that,” said Thomas.

This will be the first statewide recount Michigan has had to complete in 60 years.

–Reporter Sarah Hurwitz contributed to this report.