How Soon Would A Vote Recount Have To Be Requested? "Time Is Running Short" Would Be An Understatement

TOPSHOT - Marta Lunez, supporter of US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, reacts to elections results during election night at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York on November 8, 2016. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is calling for the presidential election votes to be recounted in three battleground states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And she's not alone; many of Hillary Clinton's supporters are right there with her. The question is, by when would a vote recount have to be requested?

Calls for a recount intensified after University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman wrote on Medium that to be sure of election results, paper ballots and voting equipment in battleground states would need to be manually examined. Despite losing the electoral vote to Donald Trump, Clinton is currently ahead by 2 million votes in the popular vote, or by 1.5 percent of all ballots cast. In Michigan Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, she's behind by 1.2 percent or less, and canvassing, or the final verification of all ballots, hasn't been completed.

Still, the Clinton campaign hasn't actually supported the idea of a recount. Clinton would have to win all three aforementioned battleground states to beat Trump in the Electoral College. Recounting votes is a long process, and it's also expensive, so it makes sense that after a long, hard campaign, Clinton and her team wouldn't want to risk losing a recount as well.

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So what would Clinton's supporters have to do to ensure a recount? It depends on the state. In Michigan, which hasn't actually been called yet, Trump leads by 0.2 percent. As the candidate, Clinton would have to submit a written, notarized statement in Michigan specifying that she wants a recount of the presidential election votes, why she thinks there should be a recount, and which precincts she wants the recounts in. The statement has to be submitted within 48 hours of the canvass of the election. Additionally, the recount has financial costs: $25 per precinct. Trump would also be able to submit an objection if he wanted to.

In Wisconsin, Trump currently has a 0.8 percent lead. Like Michigan, in Wisconsin Clinton would also have to make the recount request herself, no later than 5 p.m. EST on the third business day after the last meeting day of the board of canvassers. She would have to file her recount petition, specifying in which wards the votes should be recounted, and include a fee if the difference between the candidates is greater than 0.25 percent, which it is in this case. (If Clinton ended up being elected after the recount, the fee would be refunded, otherwise the Clinton would have to pay the balance towards the actual cost of the recount.)

In Pennsylvania, Trump currently leads by 1.2 percent of the popular vote. Unlike in Wisconsin and Michigan, Pennsylvania voters could have petitioned for a recount themselves — but the deadline for this was Nov. 20. Still, if Clinton wanted to she could contest the voting decision in court, as long as she did so by Monday, Nov. 28. Recounts in Pennsylvania also cost a good amount of money: either $50 in cash or a bond of $100 for each election district. (Of course, if "fraud or substantial error" is discovered, the money is returned.) As of June, 2015, Pennsylvania had 9,175 districts. Now it makes sense why Jill Stein is trying to raise $2 million for a recount.

It seems unlikely that Clinton's camp will make moves towards a recount, but her voters are certainly putting out pleas for her to do so. We'll have to wait and see whether she takes a chance.

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