The state's spring recall elections cost local governments about $13.5 million, according to data released Friday by the state's election watchdog agency.
The Government Accountability Board, at the request of the state Legislature, collected the cost information from the state's 72 counties and 1,851 municipalities.
According to GAB, the May 8 recall primary election cost $6.3 million, including $2.3 million in poll worker wages, $161,000 for poll worker training, $1.7 million in staff salaries, $728,000 for ballots and $617,000 for election equipment programming.
The June 5 recall election cost almost $7.2 million, including $2.5 million in poll worker wages, $250,000 for poll worker training, $1.9 million in staff salaries, $984,000 for ballots and $596,000 for programming.
GAB director Kevin Kennedy said the unplanned recall elections put added stress on municipal and county clerks.
"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," Kennedy said. "These unplanned elections also put significant stress on clerks, who have many other duties beyond elections."
Recall elections emerged in the wake of historic protests at the state Capitol in 2011 over Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining changes for public employees.
Overall, there were 15 recall elections in less than one year. To some it was the embodiment of democracy. To others, it represented an abuse of the system.
Democrats have said the answer to problems in democracy is not "less democracy." But on Friday, state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he planned to reintroduce a recall reform bill in the next legislative session.
"I'm more committed than ever to recall the recalls in the state of Wisconsin," he said. "It's an outrage that (money) was wasted on these unnecessary elections, with most of the financial burden on local governments."
Also in the report, GAB said two April elections — the presidential preference primary and the spring election — cost local taxpayers $7.6 million, including $2.2 million in poll worker wages, $655,000 for poll worker training, $1.9 million in staff salaries, $957,000 for ballots and $771,000 for programming.
Other costs, such as printing election notices, were not disclosed. Cost information from the February spring primary was not available. Cost data from the August partisan primary should be made public in several weeks. The last election this year is the general election on Nov. 6.