Presidential recount request “easy to do” in MI, says expert

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A constitutional law expert said it’s “entirely likely” Michigan will have a presidential recount because candidates don’t have to provide evidence of fraud or error to be granted one.

Michael McDaniel, a constitutional law professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, also noted that while fraud requires specific intent, error is easier to come by.

“A mistake is an error. It’s negligence. You know, it’s, we forgot something, and when you consider all of the mail-in and early votes, and you consider the fact that we have a number of new voters in Michigan … it’s entirely possible that someone omitted the security envelope or forgot to sign it. You check to make sure the signatures match, and that’s an art people might not be well trained on. There’s a lot of reasons why you can find a mistake,” McDaniel explained.

While recounts don’t often change the outcome of an election, McDaniel said Michigan law makes it relatively easy to obtain one.

“I think because it’s so easy to petition for a recount, I think it’s entirely likely it will happen,” McDaniel said.

Under Michigan law, an “aggrieved candidate who sought the office involved” must submit a written notarized statement to the Secretary of State “alleging that they possess a good-faith belief that they would have had a reasonable chance of winning the election” if error or fraud had not occurred.

Also, the candidate must specify the precincts in which they want a recount.

But McDaniel pointed out that candidates are not required to providence evidence of such fraud or error when making the request.

The state did, however, make the process a little tougher after Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested a recount, which was ultimately halted in 2016.

Since then, lawmakers added the requirement of the “good-faith belief” of a “reasonable chance” at victory.

They also increased the upfront cost to candidates who are unlikely to prevail in a recount because the vote differential is too great to be made up.

Now, if a candidate trails after the initial vote by more than five percent, the candidate must pay $250 dollars per precinct, of which Michigan has nearly 5,000.

If the differential is more than .05% of the vote, the cost is $125 per precinct, and if it’s less than .05%, it’s $25 per precinct.

If the requesting candidate wins the recount, the state would refund the money.

A petition to request a recount must be submitted within 48 hours of the Board of State Canvassers’ certification of the election.

The deadline for state board certification in Michigan is Nov. 17.

Once a recount is granted, it must be completed within a certain time frame, generally 30 days from its initiation.

That helps ensure states are finished by Dec. 8th, which is known as the “safe harbor” deadline.

If states miss that deadline, they risk losing their electoral votes when the Electoral College meets in December to cast votes and finalize the nationwide results.

Michael McDaniel, like so many others, urged people to be patient.

“Despite comments by certain candidates, it is not just an Election Day. The fact that the votes do not have to be certified until Dec. 8 makes it pretty clear that Congress always presumed there was a possibility of a need to resolve certain contests within an election, and that may be what we have here. We don’t even know at this point. So just be patient, give people time to count the votes. If the votes were received by 8 o’clock yesterday, then they’re going to be counted, and the amount of time to be counted has nothing to do with the process of voting itself. So, wait and be patient until we have those results, and then we’ll see if anyone petitions for a recount,” McDaniel said.