What to Know about a Possible Michigan Recount
(CBSNews) Wednesday is the deadline to file for a recount in Michigan, the third state on Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s list.
President-elect Donald Trump won Michigan by a razor-thin margin, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton there by just 10,704 votes (out of a total 4.8 million cast). The results were finally certified on Monday, almost three weeks after Election Day.
But Stein has already filed for a statewide recount in Wisconsin and a partial recount in Pennsylvania -- arguing that voting machine irregularities could have affected the final tallies in each state.
Recount rules and requirements are different in every state. The processes in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the other states with pending recount efforts, show the rules governing them can be pretty complicated.
So here’s a look at how this process will work in Michigan, assuming Stein files for a recount Wednesday:
How much will it cost?
In Michigan, the cost of a recount is $125 per precinct. There are 6,300 precincts across the state, meaning a statewide recount would cost $787,500.
State election officials have suggested the real cost of the recount could be higher -- more like $900,000 -- but that additional cost would be the responsibility of the counties, not Stein’s campaign.
When will it start?
State elections officials have authorized the 19 largest counties in the state to begin a recount on Friday or Saturday and would continue through the weekend. Then, officials would move on to the surrounding counties. All ballots would be counted by hand in each county, with state elections officials supervising the process each step of the way.
State Elections Director Chris Thomas estimated that the full recount could be finished by Dec. 9 or 10, assuming there are no legal objections from other candidates or campaigns. If another candidate were to contest the recount, the process of counting the ballots would be put on hold until the Board of Canvassers can rule on the challenge.
However, should there be a challenge it would be difficult for Michigan to meet the Dec. 13 federal deadline for recounts to be completed. That’s just six days before the Electoral College votes, on Dec. 19, to formally elect the next president.
So Trump can contest the recount?
Yes, he can contest Michigan’s recount within seven days of the date when the recount is requested. Trump’s attorneys said Monday that they would contest a hand recount of the state’s ballots, and will instead propose a machine recount.
The Board of Canvassers would then hold a public meeting for Trump’s team to contest the recount, and would rule on whether to continue or stop the recount after that point. (If the board’s six members are deadlocked on the issue, the recount would begin two business days later, Thomas said, according to the Detroit News.)
Will a recount change the outcome?
It’s very unlikely. Though Michigan is the closest margin between Trump and Clinton, it’s still incredibly rare for a recount to change the overall result of a race -- and a 10,000-vote margin is not easy to overcome.
Stein is seeking recounts in three states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. If the three states were to move into Clinton’s column, she would win the Electoral College with 278 electoral votes -- but again, this is exceedingly unlikely.
Michigan, worth 10 electoral votes, has never held a presidential recount, but the effort isn’t without precedent. In 2004, the Green Party did succeed in obtaining a recount in Ohio in the presidential race. The New York Times noted at the time that the statewide recount of Ohio’s 88 counties resulted in a net difference of 285 votes, meaning that George W. Bush beat John Kerry in Ohio by 118,457 votes, instead of 118,775. The recount concluded on Dec. 28, 2004, nearly two months after the election took place.