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Trump’s call for a recount in Wisconsin can’t begin until all 72 counties canvass

MADISON, WIS. — Five counties in Wisconsin had completed their canvassing of last week’s election results as of Monday morning, but all 72 must be in before President Donald Trump could call for a recount, as his campaign has said it intends to do.

Counties have until Nov. 17 to finish their canvassing of the vote, and it’s likely that the last ones will not be in until that day, said Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney. Once the last county is in, Trump has until 5 p.m. the following business day to request the recount.

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The recount would then begin within one to three days later, after all the presidential candidates have been properly notified, Magney said.

Trump lost Wisconsin by about 20,500 votes, based on unofficial results. That is about six-tenths of a point behind Democrat Joe Biden, close enough for Trump to ask for a recount but not tight enough to make it free. If Trump wants a Wisconsin recount, he must pay for it.

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State law allows for any candidate who lost by less than a percentage point to ask for a recount, but they are not automatic. Any candidate who lost by more than a quarter of a point must pay for the recount.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission was working on an estimated cost Monday. Following the 2016 presidential election, Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested a recount, which Trump opposed. He won Wisconsin that year by fewer than 23,000 votes.

Elections officials estimated that the 2016 recount would cost about $3.5 million, but it ended up being about $2 million. Stein paid the $3.5 million up front and was refunded about $1.5 million after the exact costs were known.

The Wisconsin Legislature later changed the requirements for recounts, allowing only losing candidates within 1-percentage point to seek them.

The five counties that have completed their canvasses as of Monday are Crawford, Menominee, Shawano, Iron and Jackson. They are among the smallest in Wisconsin. Magney said he expected more counties to complete the canvassing work later Monday.

Nearly 3.3 million voted in last week’s election, the most in state history, with more than 1.9 million ballots cast early either by mail or in person before Election Day.

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