Why is there a recount in Michigan? Election results in key state in question


Hillary Clinton and her campaign team are assisting Green Party candidate Jill Stein's efforts to execute a recount of presidential election ballots cast in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Should the electors in those three states hypothetically switch to favor Clinton, she would get an electoral college victory. 

Stein has been fundraising to bankroll the initiative (at the time of this article's publication she had raised more than $6.3 million out of her $7 million goal) after a team of election lawyers and computer scientists studied the results and concluded outside interference was not beyond the realm of possibility. 

"The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they've found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked," New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer reports. 

Cliff Owen/AP

Trump's lead in Michigan currently stands at 10,704 out of 4.8 million votes cast in the state, the Detroit Free Press reports. The recount would cover all of its 83 counties and involve a hand count of physical ballots, accompanied by volunteer observers to ensure accountability.

While Stein has already initiated steps to get a recount in Pennsylvania and filed a request for a recount in Wisconsin, she could not formally do so in Michigan before the state's Board of State Canvassers met to formalize the results, the Detroit Free Press also reported. Ballots have been counted since the Nov. 8 election and the final tally was certified on Monday in favor of Trump: Stein has 48 hours from the certification to file her request. 

Mark Brewer, former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, is leading Stein's initiative in Michigan. Brewer informed the Board of State Canvassers on Monday they will file their petition Wednesday.

Those involved in the hypothetical process would likely be under pressure to recount the nearly 5 million votes by Dec. 19 when the Electoral College meets to formally cast their vote for president. 

Michigan and its 16 votes in the Electoral College were crucial, along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, in deciding the election outcome — should the three states' results be reversed it would give Clinton the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the election, instead of Trump. Currently, Clinton has 232 votes and Monday's certification pushed Trump's votes up from 290 to 306.

Unlike Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Michigan does not have an election audit, Marc E. Elias, general counsel to the Clinton campaign, wrote in a Medium post on Saturday. He also noted the Clinton team is not operating under the assumption there was, in fact, a "manipulation of the results" or that the recount will change the final outcome.

Nate Silver, the renowned statistician and editor of FiveThirtyEight, believes the recount effort in Wisconsin, at least, will be fruitless. 

But the team led by Bonifaz and Halderman have argued that "in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7% fewer votes in counties which relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots," New York's Daily Intelligencer explained. 

In some parts of the state, approximately 5,000 votes have already been eliminated from President-elect Donald Trump's initial 27,257-vote lead after "an error was made while keying the numbers on the calculator during this process resulting in an incorrect number of votes reported on Election night," Hortonville Village Clerk-Treasurer Lynn Mischker told ABC affiliate WBAY last week.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted "nothing will change" the election's outcome, but later boasted he would have won the popular vote had it not been for "millions" of illegal votes.