Election Recounts: How Will They Work?

By Autumn Pattison 12/1/16

Recounts are expected to take place in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania following Donald Trump’s victories in the historically blue states. The Electoral College will meet on December 19th to officially elect the 45th president. The recount effort is being spearheaded by Dr. Jill Stein, the Green party’s presidential nominee. Stein told MSNBC she does not expect to win, but “the nature of hacking is that you don’t see it if you don’t look.” The Green party launched a fundraising campaign last week, which raised over 2 million dollars towards the cause within the first day. The recount in Wisconsin is set to start this week, and the Stein campaign is expected to file in Michigan by the end of the month. The biggest hurdle for the campaign will be organizing the hundreds of petitions necessary to warrant a recount in Pennsylvania. Ahead of the recount request, Michigan has officially confirmed Donald Trump as the winner of their 16 electoral votes, according to CNN. This pushes Trump to 306 electoral votes, while Clinton remains at 232.

Once Wisconsin receives the money to cover the expected cost of the recount, election officials in each of the state’s 72 counties will begin recalculating the winner of their 10 electoral votes. Wisconsin law states that officials have until December 13th to finalize the vote count. Votes do not have to be counted by hand, and counties may opt to use machines, though Stein raised concerns over voting machines being hacked. Many Wisconsin state officials have expressed confidence that the recount will not change anything. Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen said, “If nothing else, this is going to give us a very good audit, it’s going to reassure Wisconsin voters that we have a fair system.”

Laws in Pennsylvania mandate that citizens file their own individual requests for recounts. Currently, the Stein campaign is reporting that residents in over 100 precincts have filed. Pennsylvania is the biggest prize of the recount, with 20 electoral votes. Trump won the state by 68,000 ballots, and also has a significant popular vote lead of 22,000 in Wisconsin, according to CNN. Thus, it is unlikely a recount will change the results of either state. Michigan is the tightest race of the three states, and may end up having only a few days to re-tabulate because of their recount laws. Trump presently holds an advantage of 10,704 votes in Michigan, also reported by CNN. If the Trump campaign objects to a recount in Michigan, the Board of State Canvassers must hold a hearing and make a recount decision within five days.