Wisconsin election officials confirmed on Wednesday that they received a partial payment of $3 million from the Trump campaign. These officials said last week that the price tag for a statewide recount would be approximately $7.9 million.
“The Wisconsin Elections Commission has received a wire transfer from the Trump campaign for $3 million. No petition has been received yet, but the Trump campaign has told WEC staff one will be filed today,” the election commission said.
The Trump campaign is limiting its Wisconsin recount requests to Milwaukee County and Dane County, according to a press release from the campaign. The money paid by the Trump campaign would be enough to pay for recounts in these counties, which are Democratic strongholds.
Milwaukee County contains Milwaukee, the state’s largest city and home to the largest Black population in Wisconsin. Biden beat Trump by 317,251 votes to 134,355 in that county, according to unofficial results from the Wisconsin Election Commission.
Dane County includes the state capital of Madison, home to a many college-age voters at the University of Wisconsin. Biden won that county with 260,157 votes to 78,789 votes, according to unofficial results from the Wisconsin Election Commission.
Counties that undergo a recount will have 13 days to recount all their votes, starting on Thursday, according to procedures announced by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The commission must certify the final results by December 1.
Scott McDonell, the Dane County clerk, said his county would start counting ballots on Friday and the recount would likely take most of the allowed 13-day period.
“We have been planning for this for several days,” McDonell told reporters Wednesday. He said that it was unlikely his county’s recount would lead to significant swings in votes, “certainly nothing anywhere near what would be required for a change in outcomes.”
The recount will be conducted at least partly with ballot scanning machines. Poll workers will be socially distanced and the space will be set up with plexiglass and police security, McDonell said. Observers from the Trump and Biden campaigns will be able to watch proceedings and challenge ballots, and the count will also be livestreamed online.
“This was a really clean election from our point of view,” he said.
Experts have said it’s extremely unlikely that the recounts will shift enough votes to overturn Biden’s lead of 20,470 votes. (In 2016, a recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein ended up increasing Trump’s margin by just 131 votes.)
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican and Trump ally, has previously said that Trump faces slim odds of prevailing in a recount, calling Biden’s margin a “high hurdle” to overcome
CNN’s Caroline Kenny contributed to this report.