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Cost of Recall Elections More Than $13M, GAB Says

Estimates in February put the cost of recall upwards of $17 million. The real figures are closer to $13 million, which is still a big chunk of change.

The Government Accountability Board issued a press release Friday saying the 2012 recall elections cost taxpayers more than $13 million.

Specifically, the statement says the May recall primary ran up a bill of $6.3 million, including:

  • $2.3 million in poll worker wages;
  • $1.7 million in staff salaries;
  • $728,000 for ballots; and
  • $617,000 for programming.

The June recall general election cost more, coming in at $7.2 million. This amount also accounts for a variety of functions:

  • $2.5 million in poll worker wages;
  • $1.9 million in staff salaries;
  • $984,000 for ballots; and
  • $596,000 in programming costs.

“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 GAB in the statement. “These unplanned elections also put significant stress on Wisconsin’s clerks, who have many other duties beyond elections.”

The final tallies are from information transmitted to the GAB from municipal and county clerks, and the final total has not been audited, the release said.

Where the state saved money was with the GAB itself. According to the release, the agency expected to spend almost $1 million — $975,000 — preparing for the recall elections, including verifying recall petitions. Instead, costs came in at $663,000.

In January, residents learned that the . The estimates were pulled together after Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, made a request for the information.

In August 2011, Vos announced he would seek a change to the way Wisconsin does recall elections, and .

After the GAB's release went out, Vos issued a written statement, saying he is more committed than ever to recalling the recalls.

"Next session I intend to re-introduce a constitutional amendment to reform our recall laws," he wrote. "We need to establish real grounds for a recall election and not be at the mercy of special interest groups when they’re angered by a particular vote."

Because Vos wants to amend the state Constitution, passing the amendment requires approval from two legislative sessions and a statewide referendum.

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