“What We Learned from the Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania Recounts”

Important Marc Elias post:

n Wisconsin, the recount proceeded relatively smoothly thanks to the cooperation of the state and local officials. We urged the state, and the courts, to ensure that the recount was conducted by hand statewide. That request was rejected. Nevertheless, the state has a process to conduct a post-election ballot audit, and most jurisdictions in the state chose to recount by hand. Those that did not recount by hand recounted via machine. An effort by two pro-Trump super PACs to halt the recount was resisted by the Republican Attorney General and rejected by a federal court. As predicted, the recounted results showed little change versus the initial results.

In contrast, Michigan halted its hand recount after the Republican Attorney General sued the state’s own election board for ordering the recount at all. The narrow legal issue was whether Dr. Stein was “aggrieved” by the election results. The larger, more troubling issue is whether states ought to be picking and choosing which candidates they think are really “aggrieved” and which are not. If North Carolina law says that only candidates within 10,000 votes may seek a recount, that is a clear standard. So, too, is a state law, like that in Wisconsin, that does not set a vote threshold to seek a recount. What isn’t fair, or likely constitutional, is a standardless approach where state officials or courts use their own judgment to decide if they think it’s close enough. Michigan may believe that Dr. Stein couldn’t possibly win and she isn’t “aggrieved,” but the Michigan law doesn’t set a threshold and nobody should want states exercising those judgments after the vote has taken place.

Finally, in Pennsylvania, the recount effort never got off the ground. Due to Pennsylvania’s arcane laws, the use of touch screen voting machines, and organizing challenges, the effort to obtain a statewide recount failed. Similarly, the efforts to obtain a forensic examination of voting systems suffered the same fate. In the end, the margin in Pennsylvania was the largest of the three states, but the process for recounting and confirming those results was the most difficult.


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