The upcoming May 8 election primary and the June 5 recall elections will cost local governments as much as $17 million according to a report from state officials.
Bigger counties and towns incur larger costs, costs that for the most part aren't reimbursed.
The May 8 primary will determine the Republican and Democratic candidates who will face off in June. Critics of Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch have pressed for their removal after the Republican governor led the movement to curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers shortly after taking office in 2011.
Vilas County clerk Dave Alleman estimates the upcoming May 8 primary will cost Vilas County as much as $15,000 and then the cost could be nearly that for the followup recall election in June.
Costs range from printing ballots and poll books, to paying staff and buying legal advertising. Additionally, clerks must acquire computer memory devices to store the results from each polling place.
"The biggest costs are the price for the ballots," said Alleman. "The county will spend about $5,000 just for the ballots and then the programming that we have to provide to the towns will be another approximately $4,500."
The county must bear the cost of having the ballots printed for the towns.
Alleman said then the county has to spend an additional "couple thousand dollars or so for the election's newspaper advertising which is required by law.
"And then there's the time that myself and my deputy have to spend on getting all of this organized," said Alleman.
"We'll recover a small amount from the towns, but nothing near what it will really cost us."
As far as turnout is concerned Alleman said he expects a big turnout.
"We're planning to have as big of a turnout for the recall election as we see in years of the presidential election," said Alleman. "We're anticipating a 74 to 75 percent turnout."
Alleman acknowledged that a large amount of money is spent on having ballots printed, but he said "the alternative is that you run out of ballots and you can't have that. We have to be on the safe side and have plenty of ballots ready."
Alleman said his cost estimate of up to $15,000 for the county's expenses does not include the extra costs that towns and other local governments will have to cover for poll workers and other additional help needed on both election days.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.