The cogs in the democratic machine are still turning nearly one month after the presidential election on Nov. 8, as citizens and politicians fervently attempt to prevent Donald Trump from assuming the presidency. Following a brief and meteoric funding and awareness campaign, Jill Stein filed for a vote recount in Michigan Wednesday, initiating the rarely used electoral process as the latest twist in this exceptional election year. Though millions are hoping for a miraculous reversal of the Nov. 8 outcome, there's a natural desire to know when this limbo period will finally be over. The good news is that it's coming very soon.
According to federal law, recounts must be completed within 35 days of the presidential election, which means the deadline is Dec. 13 this year. States are going to have a difficult time completing the recount within this slim window, and according to most experts, these recounts will have little effect on the election results anyway. The margins by which Trump won Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are relatively large, and overturning them in a recount would be completely unprecedented. Clinton would have to win all three states to move the electoral vote, which is highly statistically improbable.
The recounts are unlikely to change the outcome of the election, but there's another dim sliver of hope for the Never Trumpers. A group called Hamilton Electors is fundraising to block Trump from winning the Electoral College vote on Dec. 19, and urging citizens to protest the vote at their state capitals. This is also historically unlikely, but slightly more probable than a recount changing the election — the incidence of faithless electors is minuscule, but the Hamilton Electors argue that the reason electors have the power to change their votes is in case of a situation like this. According to the group, Trump represents a threat that only the electors have the power to mitigate, and doing so is their patriotic duty.
Though both of these electoral fail-safes are unlikely to change the outcome of the election, the country should finally have an answer in just a few weeks' time. The desire to oust Trump from the position of president-elect is strong for many, but it is certainly contending with the desire for some long-needed political homeostasis too. Whatever happens as the result of the recount or elector campaign, the United States will finally know one way or the other by Dec. 19.