By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein asked a judge Monday to force a hand recount of nearly 3 million ballots cast in Wisconsin after the state Elections Commission rejected her call to do that.
The commission voted unanimously to move ahead with a recall timeline that would start the process on Thursday. But the commission left it up to local election officials to determine the best method for conducting the recount, either by hand or using ballot tabulation machines.
Stein quickly filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court arguing that a hand recount was the only way to ensure the vote totals are accurate.
The recount is scheduled to begin on Thursday.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission said Monday that based on estimates from counties the recount would cost $3.5 million. That’s more than triple what the commission originally estimated and would be half of the $7 million fundraising goal Stein said was needed for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
More than 30 counties told the Elections Commission they planned to do a hand recount whether it is ordered by a judge or not.
Stein’s Wisconsin recount request, and lawsuit, included an affidavit from University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman who said a hand recount is the only way to determine whether there could have been a cyberattack that affected the results. He argued that records stored in electronic voting equipment could have been manipulated in an attack.
Wisconsin Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen vigorously defended Wisconsin’s election system, saying he was certain that president-elect Donald Trump would emerge as the winner after the recount. Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 22,170 votes, based on unofficial results.
“We are confident in our popular vote count,” Thomsen said.
Stein and Independent candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente each requested a recount Friday in Wisconsin. They would have to pay the $3.5 million cost on Tuesday before the recount would begin on Thursday.
The Wisconsin recount would include an examination of all ballots, poll lists, absentee applications, rejected absentee ballots and provisional ballots.
The last statewide recount in Wisconsin was for a state Supreme Court race in 2011. The recount showed Justice David Prosser defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,004 votes, just 312 votes less than the unofficial results showed.
That effort took more than a month and involved about half as many votes as the nearly 3 million votes cast in this year’s presidential election in Wisconsin. But Stein argued in her lawsuit that a hand recount is not necessarily as time-consuming as recounting using optical scanners.
Wisconsin’s unofficial election results show President-elect Trump with 1,404,000 votes, Hillary Clinton with 1,381,823 votes, Stein with 31,000 votes and De La Fuente with 1,514.
Trump’s victory in Wisconsin marked the first time since 1984 that a Republican presidential candidate carried the state.
Associated Press writer Todd Richmond also contributed to this report.