The recount for Michigan, the closest of the battleground states, is set to begin soon, depending on the results of a hearing this morning where President-Elect Donald Trump is arguing that Jill Stein doesn’t qualify to demand a Michigan recount. Trump is leading in Michigan by just 10,704 votes. Exactly how long will it take to recount all the votes in Michigan and will the work be done before the deadline?
Here’s what you need to know. We will update this story as we have more information.
Trump Wants to Halt the Michigan Recount, Arguing that Stein Doesn’t Have Standing to File the Claim
On Thursday, President-Elect Donald Trump objected to the recount in Michigan, stating that Jill Stein didn’t have the standing to demand a recount and that the recount could not be finished before the Electoral College election on December 19. The board is going to hear this objection this morning, The New York Times reported, which was originally the day the recount was supposed to begin. If the objection is rejected, then the recount will begin early next week, since the recount can’t start until two business days after the decision, Lansing State Journal reported.
The recounts were originally scheduled to start in all counties between December 2 and December 4. All the ballots in Michigan are paper, so the recount will be done by hand if it occurs.
The Federal Deadline for the Michigan Recount is December 13
Certified election results need to be sent to the Electoral College before December 19. Controversies related to the election process are supposed to be decided by the courts no later than December 13. In other words, the federal deadline for deciding any controversies is December 13. However, Michigan can set its own, different deadline. The Wisconsin Elections Commission, for example, has set a deadline of 8 p.m. on December 12, ABC News reported.
Whatever deadline it sets, Michigan will have less than two weeks to finish its recount.
There’s always a chance, however, that the results won’t be finished by December 13. If this looks like it could happen, what could the courts do? This is where we get into uncharted waters. In Florida in 2000, the courts extended their counties’ deadline for recounts, which originally came up very early in November. The U.S. Supreme Court then had an opportunity to extend the deadline even more, but opted not to do so. On December 9 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the recount should be halted and the victory given to George Bush. The decision noted that it was not setting precedent and, thus, could not be used to decide future recounts.
So how does this relate to the recounts today? In short, although December 13 is the “official” deadline, counties can sue to have that deadline extended if it appears that they can’t finish in time and, by not finishing, they might disenfranchise some voters. But this gets into pretty murky waters, since extending the deadline would also affect the Electoral College process too.
Florida’s case in 2000 was more extreme, in some ways, than what we have today. In Florida, the recount was automatically triggered by a state that was far closer than Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Michigan. This means that although deadline extensions were granted (for a time) in 2000, there’s likely less of a chance that will happen again in 2016.
To learn more about the Michigan recount and the electoral college, please read: