Michigan Recount 2016: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Donald Trump's final rally before the election was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Devos Place. The late night rally began at 11 p.m. and featured Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence. Tomorrow night, Trump will hold an election watch party at the New York Hilton Midtown, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Trump has been crisscrossing the nation campaigning for president, and now the final results are almost here. Click through the gallery to see photos and stories about Trump's last campaign rally. (Getty)

Donald Trump’s final rally before the election was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Devos Place. (Getty)

Michigan – the battleground state with one of the closest margins in the country – appears headed toward a 2016 presidential election recount, although the deadline for requesting one is not until November 30.

Green Party nominee Jill Stein has raised more than $5.9 million to fund recounts in three swing states that gave the election to Donald Trump: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. (Hillary Clinton would need all three states to fall to win the Electoral College, which meets December 19, giving states a tight deadline to complete recounts.)

Trump, who leads in Michigan by only 10,704 votes, called the recount efforts a “scam.” Meanwhile, the Obama administration is defending the election results, according to Politico, saying, “it has seen no evidence of hackers tampering with the 2016 presidential election” and adding, “We stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people.”

Stein has already formally asked for a Wisconsin recount, and one will commence next week. She asked for the Wisconsin recount first because that state’s deadline was November 25. On her fundraising website, Stein says she has now raised the funds for recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylania, and is urging people to donate money to fund a Michigan recount.


Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer said on November 26 that the Democratic Party nominee (the only person likely to benefit if a recount took the states from Trump) would now participate in the recount in Wisconsin and possibly also in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Her campaign said it has extensively investigated claims of election interference and hacking but has found no “actionable” evidence of it. The lawyer, Marc Elias added, “We do so (participate) fully aware that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.” But he said the campaign wants to ensure the election was fair.

Stein has said she is not taking the actions to help Clinton but rather to verify election integrity.

Pennsylvania’s recount deadline is on November 28, and Stein has not yet requested the recount there or in Michigan. However, it’s in Michigan where the margin is the slimmest and, thus, a recount could theoretically be most successful (although, again, Clinton would need all states to win).

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Michigan’s Ballots Are Paper & Will Be Counted by Hand If a Recount Is Requested

Michigan is one of a series of states that uses paper ballots.

The Detroit Free Press said the recount “will be a monumental task for the Secretary of State and 83 county clerks around Michigan” and that the state will hand count each ballot if a recount is requested.

Michigan’s recount rules say that a candidate “who believes that the canvass of the votes cast on the office may be incorrect because of possible ‘fraud or mistake’ in the precinct returns may petition for a recount of the votes cast in the precincts involved.”

Michigan charges $125 per precinct for a recount. Opposing candidates can “submit objections to the recount request to the Board of County Canvassers,” Michigan’s recount rules say.

In contrast, Wisconsin does not mandate hand counting of ballots and uses a mixture of electronic machines and paper ballots. Pennsylvania is one of a few states to rely almost exclusively on electronic machines without any paper records.

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2. The Michigan Race Was So Close the Race Wasn’t Called for Weeks

detroit clinton rally photo

Hillary Clinton led a rally today in Detroit, Michigan’s Eastern Market. (Getty)

Stein can not formally ask for a Michigan recount until Monday, November 28 at 2 p.m. because that’s when the state’s results will be certified. Recounts are automatic in Michigan if an election’s margin is under 2,000 votes, the Secretary of State’s office says, but candidates can seek them even if the margin is greater than that.

For weeks, Michigan was a holdout; the Associated Press did not call the race because the margin was so close and a recount was always feasible. As canvassing has progressed, Trump’s lead has eroded by several thousand votes. As of November 26, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office was reporting these results for Michigan:

Donald Trump: 2,279,543
Hillary Clinton: 2,268,839
Gary Johnson: 172,136
Darrell L. Castle: 16,139
Jill Stein: 51,463
Emidio Mimi Soltysik: 2,209

Trump’s margin: 10,704 votes.

That means the state will need to count 4,790,329 votes by hand. Stein’s vote total in Michigan is more than four times Trump’s margin over Clinton.

The spokesman for Michigan’s secretary of state has said it would be unlikely for the election results to change. Fred Woodhams, the spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, told Heavy earlier in November, “We have no reason to believe that there are significant numbers of votes that are unaccounted for. All cities and townships in the state (1,500 of them) have reported unofficial vote totals.”

3. Stein’s Campaign Is Concerned About the Difference Between Exit Polls & Actual Results as Well as Under Votes

hillary clinton detroit rally photo

Supporters hold signs as Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Wayne State University on October 10, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Getty)

Stein’s campaign manager, David Cobb, told the Detroit Free Press that Michigan made the recount list because its margin was so close. New Hampshire actually had a closer margin (Clinton won that state), but Trump did not request a recount there.

Cobb told the newspaper the campaign was concerned that exit polls showed Clinton leading in Michigan and “there was a significant under-vote on Nov. 8, when an estimated 85,000 people cast ballots but did not make a selection in the presidential race.”

Voter participation in Michigan increased over 2012, but the number of undervotes for president increased dramatically. The undervotes rose from 49,840 votes in 2012 to 87,810 in 2016, said MLive. However, this might simply reflect general voter dislike of both major party candidates in an exceptionally divisive election year; MLive says third party voting also jumped, from 1 to 5%. Furthermore, says the site, Clinton did not come close to Barack Obama’s percentages in the urban Detroit area.

Trump managed to shift the allegiances of white working class voters throughout a swath of the Midwest, not just in Michigan, while Clinton did not rally urban voters enough to counter the phenomenon (although she did win the popular vote by more than 2 million.)

Exit polls for Michigan showed the race a tie, a small discrepancy from the final result, but not as great of one as in some other states, including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, according to

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4. Clinton’s Campaign Has Investigated Possible Hacking of the Election & A Group of Professors & Lawyers Has Raised Election Questions

trump grand rapids rally

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence wait for the start of a campaign rally on November 7, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Getty)

Clinton has only belatedly joined the recount efforts lodged by Jill Stein and the Green Party. At first, her campaign remained silent on the topic as Stein raised millions in just a few hours.

With the recounts now becoming a reality, and after Stein formally requested one in Wisconsin (which was granted), Clinton’s campaign decided to join in, but her campaign lawyer, Marc Elias, stressed that the recounts were not at Clinton’s initiative.

Elias has acknowledged the difficulty in overturning the election. However, in a post on the site, Elias wrote, “It should go without saying that we take these concerns extremely seriously. We certainly understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton, and it is a fundamental principle of our democracy to ensure that every vote is properly counted.”

He added, “This election cycle was unique in the degree of foreign interference witnessed throughout the campaign: the U.S. government concluded that Russian state actors were behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the personal email accounts of Hillary for America campaign officials, and just yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the Russian government was behind much of the ‘fake news’ propaganda that circulated online in the closing weeks of the election.”

The recount efforts kicked into gear after a story appeared in New York Magazine recounting a meeting between a group of professors and lawyers with Clinton’s campaign. The group claims it has found election anomalies in Wisconsin; it says that voters using electronic machines chose Clinton at a lesser rate than those using paper ballots. Elias has said the campaign met with many experts.

However, other experts say demographic variables could account for that difference, not fraud; for example, electronic machines tend to be in rural areas where white working class voters shifted to Trump (a phenomenon seen in other states throughout the Midwest).

Furthermore, Michigan does not use electronic voting machines, so it’s unclear how such paper ballots could possibly be hacked.

There are other reasons that Trump might have prevailed in Michigan, including the state’s demographics and his emphasis on jobs, the economy, and trade.

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5. Trump Has Called the Recount Efforts a ‘Scam’ & Michigan Hasn’t Had a Recount in Decades

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - NOVEMBER 08: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally on November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With less than 24 hours until Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally on November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Getty)

The Detroit Free Press said Michigan hasn’t had a statewide recount in decades, dating to a daylight savings time referendum and governor’s race election in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Trump had stayed silent on the recount efforts until November 26, when he released a statement calling them a “scam.”

In his most controversial tweet, Trump claimed, without offering any evidence, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election. (Read more about this unproven claim and its possible conspiracy theory origins here.)

“The people have spoken and the election is over, and as Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, ‘We must accept this result and then look to the future,’” Trump said, calling the recount “ridiculous.” Trump also unleashed a slew of tweets saying nothing will change and pointing out that Clinton criticized him during a debate for saying the election was rigged.

His campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told Bloomberg, “What a pack of sore losers. After asking Mr. Trump and his team a million times on the trail, ‘Will HE accept the election results?’ it turns out Team Hillary and her new BFF Jill Stein can’t accept reality.”

Stein was critical of Clinton during the election, and some Democrats have blamed third party candidates for costing Clinton the White House.

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    • Perhaps the Republicans should just request a recount of the Democratic Primary.. you know, the one where there WAS election interference by DNC colluding with MSM and each other to oust Bernie. Speaking of which, isn’t election fraud/interference a felony?

    • That would take too much time. Federal law requires that ALL votes are to be counted (in this case recounted) by December 13th (35 days after the election). If the votes aren’t counted by then, that state’s electoral votes won’t be counted. If 270 isn’t reached by anyone, then the House will vote (one delegate per state) for the President out of the top three candidates, and the Senate will vote for the VP out of the top two candidates. If the House is still deadlocked by Inauguration Day, the VP elect will be sworn in until the President elect issue is resolved.

      • So if Republicans sued for recount in California and California didn’t make the Dec 13th and 19th deadlines .. the fifty five electoral votes for Hillary would get thrown out .. same thing Jill Stein and Hillary are trying to do to Trump with the three state recount .. demanding hand count in each (to take most time) and filling their requests at last second.

      • ??? There is not even a constitutional requirement that a state have a popular election for President. The legislature can retain the power to directly select the electors if it chooses. And all the Safe Harbor Law does is require that the Electors be certified by December 13. Michigan’s electors are already certified and sent.

    • Lawyers for the GOP and DNC will be there. That is SOP on recounts. Stein is paying, but I suspect Clinton will assist if the need arises. I can’t see this overturning a Trump victory though. There would have to be actual fraud as in voters that voted for somebody else being counted for Trump for that to happen. Although Russian computer hackers weighing teh vote for Trump is the fear, there appears to be no evidence of that. Just the fake new propagation.

    • Because HRC won New Hampshire. But if they are seriously concerned then perhaps they should have that one done too. Perhaps they should just fork out the several hundred million it could cost to recount all the states LOL.

      They say Stein raised over $4Million in a few hours… I’d love to see that donator list. Wonder if HRC is on it?
      Her Lawyer: He added, “This election cycle was unique in the degree of foreign interference witnessed throughout the campaign: the U.S. government concluded that Russian state actors were behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the personal email accounts of Hillary for America campaign officials, and just yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the Russian government was behind much of the ‘fake news’ propaganda that circulated online in the closing weeks of the election.”

      Has anyone actually seen any real proof of the Russian government being involved? Seems like it was a very desperate move by Obama/HRC/MSM.
      I don’t recall ANYONE showing us proof. I thought we are all about transparence now. LOL.

      • Bambi,
        In response to a question, Michael S. Rogers, a Naval officer and NSA director since 2014, said on stage at a Wall Street Journal conference that Wikileaks was furthering a nation-state’s goals by publishing hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s presidential campaign weeks ahead of the election. “There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s minds, this was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect,” he said.

        That being said they have proof that it was a Russian group going by fancy bear or cozy bear & they were also able to verify that same group hacked into German Parliament. It appears Russia is now trying to mess with Germany’s upcoming election. And has been involved in fake news propaganda about refugees in Germany (posting fake news about crime & rapes committed by refugees). While Russia might not be the super power they once were they have found a way to be very powerful in the world by way of dividing nations w/ propaganda & effecting elections w/ hacking. Russia appears to be trying to break up EU, USA & democracy & it’s working. Frankly I find it very concerning that they were involved in our election no matter what side they helped win & we should all be concerned by this. We should also look into Trump with regards to Russia.

        Furthermore I’m not comfortable with Trumps pro-Putin stance, his appointments of alt white right “nationalists” &/or pro-Russia to the cabinet (look at where they stand on the issue, If he chooses Romney that might balance the cabinet having a moderate & someone that does not trust Russia).

        Trump’s campaign rhetoric is the “biggest dream of everyone in the Kremlin,” Tina Khidasheli, defense minister of Georgia, a U.S. ally, told The Post. “It’s scary, it’s dangerous, and it’s irresponsible.”

        Her view is shared in the United States by leading Russia experts from both political parties.

        Michael McFaul, who stepped down in 2014 as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said Trump’s stance toward Russia “makes everyone I talk to around the world nervous — and it makes me nervous.”

        David J. Kramer, who served as deputy assistant secretary of state dealing with Russia during the George W. Bush administration, said he was “appalled” by Trump’s approach.

        Donald Jr secretly met with 30 Russian supporters last month in Paris to discuss Syria. Now I do not know what that means politically for us or Syria BUT what I do know is Donald Jr has NO business (not to mention no experience) meeting with Russian representatives about Syria! Why isn’t anyone freaking out about this?

        Trumps backing of Brexit (no other leader of a democratic republic was in favor of Brexit). Trump tweeting that Nigel Farage (alt white right nationalist UK leader & friendly w/ Putin) should be UK’s US ambassador, Trump also invited Farage to meet with him in Washington. But when Prime Minister May called Trump to congratulate him he told her “if you’re ever in the USA you can give me a call. (fortunately Paul Ryan showed his support of the UK yesterday by calling them an “indispensable ally” & we have to show “solidarity”.

        Trump wants out of NATO, is on conflict with the UN, wants out of the Trade Agreement (which has economists saying will leave Russia & China to take over).

        Is anyone seeing a pattern here that leads them to feel like Trumps vision might be bigger than bringing jobs back to America & more about a new world order or is he just inexperienced & currently influenced by Bannon & his cabinet?

        • Russia has the best hackers but just because they are Russian doesn’t mean they had anything to do with the Russian Government. Comey even admitted publicly that it is impossible to know or trace the hackers because they can do it without leaving a trace, that they were even there.,Do you have proof Donald Trump Jr met with those people,never heard of it until now. doubt it happened.. Trump does not want to pull out of NATO. NATO allies have only met 32% of their commitments, The U.S.A. has picked up the tab. He wants them to pay their fair share. Hillary;s stance on Syria scared me, she said in one of the debates that she would develop a no fly zone in Syria. Does she not realize that this would definitely mean a confrontation with Russia? So even if Trump did discuss Syria that would be the smart place to start. Discussion first. I personally believe it is too late for Syria, Russia controls it but we still have a chance of destroying ISIS in Iraq, Of course other countries leaders don’t support Brexit, they are all for globalization, but i bet many of their citizens secretly support Brexit. The European Union is controlled by a bunch of old guys living in Brussels, These guys weren’t elected and the people don’t even know who they are. How stupid to support that.

        • If I’m reading the quote correctly, his money phrase is “Wikileaks was furthering a nation-state’s goals.” That does not state that a nation-state hacked the emails and turned them over to Wikileaks. At best, he’s asserting that Russia was pleased with what Wikileaks did.

          “There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s minds, this was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect,” he said. His 2d sentence is a non sequitur of the first. There is no clear statement in anything he has said that Russia hacked the DNC.

          And even if they did, it is irrelevant to a Michigan recount, the very topic of this article.

    • No, they only want the states that can overturn the election. More than 3 weeks after the fact, they have had plenty of time to hatch a plan to cheat their way into the White House. Hillary couldn’t even debate Sanders without cheating. Republicans should be very vigilant. They are up against a colluding, conniving group of desperate cutthroats, the Clinton campaign. Stein is just a diversion, a frontman. The driving force is more than likely not her.

      • Stein hates Clinton. I don’t know why she’s doing it. For attention, for money for her party. Who knows. Sure there’s Democrats that have some sort of hope or think there might have been something amiss but in the end it will be solidified that Trump won & should put to bed any further discussion on the matter. What I don’t like to see if these polarizing sides that divides our nation. Most of us want the same thing it’s just a difference of who we think can do it. We need to remember that & have each others backs regardless.

        • Because Jill said Hillary was worse than Trump, Jill thought Trump would choose her as EPA Administrator. Now she is ticked off.

    • Nixon was pushed to request a recount because the race was extremely close (one state went to Kennedy by on 150 votes). He refused.

      In spite of a legacy that had him resign office in shame over the Watergate scandal .. he had too much respect for the office of president, and for the american voters, to put them through a recount and associated conflict .. instead insisting on a smooth transition of power for the good of all.

      He showed more grace and class than the current bunch of Democratic and Green party folk, who seem intent on sabotaging, the clear and consisive win in the election, and the will of the people.

    • As a native Californian except for the last decade, the media has been calling Calif before precinct closure for years, nothing special about this election

  1. It is weird to me that the “Green Party” is the one calling for the recount. And now Hillary is joining them. Verrrry interesting. Who is financing this effort? Green party did not win any state. It would not benefit them one iota. It will be amazing the votes that will be found. I wouldn’t have told the exit poll anything either. You could not trust the poll normally and I didn’t want to waste my time talking to people without integrity.

    • One theory is that Green party recount is being financed by Democratic donors with big wallets .. another pay-for-play scheme. Let’s make a deal.

  2. It would seem to me if Hillary failed to file an objection in Michigan, the question then becomes strictly between Stein, as the petitioner, and Trump, the winner of the race.

    • HRC is supposedly, ‘not initiating any of this’ … however, since Stein can not possibly gain anything by this, it’s obviously just more of the same. Michigan was close. I think it was the closest it says above. However, even if it WAS wrong, they would ALL have to be wrong for HRC to possibly overturn the election. And then, if it went that far, I’m sure Trump would want a recount of every state she wrong. All this from Stein who had NO CHANCE OF WINNING ANYTHING, and paid for by the ‘protesters’ since the election (Note: riot not protest but that’s not supposed to be said out loud lol).

    • under the law, regardless of which candidate (or voter, actually) requests a recount, all the candidates are considered parties to the recount effort, and are permitted to send observers, etc.

  3. This is such a stupid waste of tax payer money – Jill Stein shou
    Dnt even be allowed to prompt a recount she she would not be able to win – the machines -unless they have been undisturbed (lock key and guarded by who? Since the Clintons seem to own Washington) can’t even be trusted to not have been tampered with by her team now – even president Obama essentially said to let it go and a dept the results – – this sad because Clinton is further sullying her name by doing this – she needs to stop and remember that these actions are the actions that will go down in history (these are the things that people will remember and anything that she may have done well will be forgotten

    • If Trump would have lost he would have been everywhere shouting on the rooftops. Clinton isn’t behind this but I think she feels like she has to put her toe in. Her base is asking for it. Nothing will come of it except creating jobs for the people that will be recounting!

  4. The Michigan undervote is highly problematic. While its possible that 87000 people were so turned off that they voted for no one, its nearly impossible that Michigan was the sole state with that level of intentional undervoting — and it was, by far. In other words, if 2.5% of the voters in Michigan chose to undervote, something close to that same percentage would be found in demographically similar states like Ohio — and they aren’t.

    Far more likely is that voters unintentionally voided their ballots — using the wrong pencil, not filling in the circle completely, etc. Michigan’s “paper ballot” system is relatively new to begin with…and the fact that voter participation was way up (suggesting inexperienced voters), and the likelihood of ballots showing voter intent that could not be machine counted is increased substantially. In Florida, we saw that Democrats benefitted disproportionate from the hand-counting of optically scanned ballots — both in the cases of undervotes, and overvotes (where stray marks can be interpreted as a “vote”, rendering a ballot “overvoted”.)

  5. I think this is disgusting HILLARY called us deplorable look in the mirror her and her cartel buddies are the deplorables .i agree that whenntheyvate gone counting we should have a recount too . Such freaking crybabies . Get over yourself

  6. Somewhat amazing that the Press continues to allege the US Government has determined Russian hackers – when no formal position has been made by the Government – only Campaigns, the DNC and Media – Wikileaks itself denies the source, likening the claim to the Benghazi video lie to the People of the USA.

  7. All the losers need to go back under the rocks they came from and come back out in 3 years. This will not hold anything up. Trump will be sworn in and there is nothing they can do to stop it. Most of the districts in PA won’t even sign affidavits for a recount, this was reported last night, by NBC. Even in Philly they only had 1/3 of the # they needed there to ask for a recount.

  8. People clearly do not understand. The Safe Harbor Date is the date by which the electors must be certified and submitted, and it is a law that has contingency provisions. Michigan already submitted the elector list as have most states. If perchance a miracle occurs and the recounts show that Hillary actually won Michigan, the electors already sent can resign and be replaced by Hillary electors. If it happens after December 13, Michigan can send a second slate and Congress gets to choose which to accept, which will be Hillary’s despite the make up of Congress. You see, despite the claims of extremists from both sides, most of both parties in Congress respect the law and tradition.

    • People do not understand Safe Harbor because reporting is all over the board on it .. if recounts do not make hard target dates of Dec 13th and 19th some reports say electoral college votes are thrown out .. some say courts may intervene to extend target dates or declare a winner .. some say it get thrown to Congress .. some say electoral college votes needed changes from 270 needed to simple majority … etc.

      I’ve done extensive searches for simple and definitive answers on how this works and NOT been able to find anything (other than already confusing reporting). I think folks that voted for Trump are nervous and upset to think that all it takes to throw out their votes is a last minute recount request, along with demands to count by hand.

      You seem knowledgeable about this topic, perhaps you could share a link to webpage that explains Safe Harbor in plain English terms.