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Recount costs Rock, Walworth counties $12,000

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Kevin Hoffman
May 25, 2011
— Rock and Walworth counties paid nearly $12,000 for staff and supplies during a week-long recount in the state Supreme Court race.

County clerks confirmed their total costs Tuesday, stemming from JoAnne Kloppenburg's requested recount in her bid to oust incumbent Justice David Prosser. Kloppenburg gained about 300 votes during the process but still fell 7,004 votes short of Prosser.


The Government Accountability Board on Monday declared Prosser the victor.


Walworth County staff and volunteers spent close to 60 hours recounting ballots, County Clerk Kim Bushey said. The county paid about $8,700, most of which is used for salaries and materials needed to conduct the recount.


Those expenses were significantly higher than Rock County's, though not comparable. Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said costs totaled about $3,268.


Recounts rely heavily on volunteers to minimize costs, but the board of canvass and other staff still receive salaries. Stottler said the county paid $1,500 to canvassers and a full-time minute taker, and $718 in overtime costs to two employees.


The expenses appear insignificant when weighed against the county's overall budget, but Stottler said it would still require her to draw money from the general fund.


The county budgets for two elections annually, and Stottler said the large turnout this spring already stretched finances thin.


"We got off cheap, it could have (been worse)," she said. "But with all the cost shifting and dollar shifting that goes on from the state down, any cost is significant."


Bushey said Walworth County's recount costs likely will force her to make transfers from different accounts, though she couldn't yet determine how it affected her elections budget.


Walworth County's costs were close to $5,500 higher than Rock County's, but that's because Bushey included in her estimate normal time and salary for personnel and the county attorney. Without that, the county's expenses are around $2,800, she said.


Bushey had 106 volunteers throughout the seven-day recount, including those who participated more than once. Stottler said she had 36 volunteers.


Volunteers were used as tabulators. They counted, separated and reconciled ballots. Stottler said the Milton city clerk volunteered to record minutes for two days, saving additional expenses.


Recount costs across the state total about $270,000 so far, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press. As of Friday, all but eight of Wisconsin's 72 counties had released expense reports.



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