August 1, 2014

Recall costs top $13 million

Costs are out on Wisconsin’s historic recall election. The effort to recall Governor Scott Walker, the lieutenant governor, and Republican state senators ended up costing more than $13 million for the May primary and June general elections, according to numbers released Friday by the state Government Accountability Board.

The May primary cost local taxpayers $6.3 million, including $2.3 million in poll worker wages and $1.7 million in staff salaries. Ballots cost $728,000 and programming cost $617,000. The June election cost nearly $7.2 million, including $2.5 million in poll worker wages and $1.9 million in staff salaries. Ballots cost $984,000 and programming cost $596,000.

At the request of the Legislature, the Government Accountability Board began last August to collect election cost data from Wisconsin’s 72 counties and 1,851 municipalities. Most election costs are borne by local taxpayers.

“Instead of conducting two primaries and two elections this year, Wisconsin election officials will be conducting six elections, which added approximately $13.5 million in unbudgeted costs,” said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. “These unplanned elections also put significant stress on Wisconsin’s clerks, who have many other duties beyond elections.”

Elections Division Administrator Nat Robinson cautioned that the cost data has not been audited, and said clerks may have used different methods in arriving at their numbers.

“I’m more committed than ever to recall the recalls in the state of Wisconsin,” said state Representative Robin Vos in a statement. “It’s an outrage that $13.5 million was wasted on these unnecessary elections, with most of the financial burden on local governments.” Vos promised to re-introduce a constitutional amendment, reforming the state’s recall laws, in the next session of the legislature.