If a recount of the nearly 4.8 million votes cast in Michigan for president on Nov. 8 actually takes place, county clerks’ offices around the state will become crowded with passionate and highly vested eyewitnesses.
The campaign for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said Saturday night it will participate in a recount of votes after Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, officially requested a recount on Friday in Wisconsin and has promised to do the same in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Both the Michigan Republican Party and the campaign of Republican president-elect Donald Trump, who holds a 10,704 lead over Clinton in the state, also are looking for volunteers to be observers of the hand recount that will take place in the 83 counties where the votes were cast.
Michigan’s Board of Canvassers is scheduled to certify the state’s election results at 2 p.m. Monday. After those results are certified, Stein has until Wednesday to request a recount. If that happens, a tedious and expensive process will begin to hand count the 4,799,284 ballots cast in the presidential race in the state.
The Michigan Secretary of State's office is researching how federal law affects the timeline to complete a recount, but it is anticipated that a recount would have to be done before Dec. 19 when the electoral college meets to cast its votes for president.
Stein will have to pay $125 per precinct – 6,300 in Michigan – for a cost of $787,500. She’s raised more than $6 million toward a $7 million goal to pay for the three recounts as well as legal costs anticipated to accompany the process.
A recount will continue what has become a stunning election cycle in which Clinton was the favorite in nearly all the polls leading up to Nov. 8, only to be beaten by the controversial New York businessman who tapped into a vein of discontent voters looking for a change in Washington, D.C.
Trump is hanging on to a 306-232 electoral college lead over Clinton, with the winner needing 270 to win the race. Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is more than 2 million votes.
The results of the election would have to be reversed in all three states to change the outcome of the race, which Stein and even Clinton’s campaign acknowledge is an unlikely scenario. In Wisconsin, the margin of Trump’s victory over Clinton was 27,257. In Pennsylvania, the margin was 68,236 votes.
While Clinton campaign counsel Mark Erik Elias said in a post on Medium that the campaign had been quietly looking at the election results to see if there was any outside interference, “We had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology.”
As a result, they had not planned to ask for recounts, but now that Stein has requested a recount, Elias added, “We feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.”
One problem the campaign saw was that many states, including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, audit the results of the election by canvassing some precincts. But Michigan does not.
“This is unfortunate,” Elias said. “It is our strong belief that, in addition to an election canvass, every state should do this basic audit to ensure accuracy and public confidence in the election.”
The recount request drew the ire of Trump and a call to action by Michigan Republicans.
"This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing,” the campaign said in a statement.
And in a flurry of tweets on Sunday morning, Trump said Stein was using the recount effort to line her own pockets and slammed Clinton for criticizing him during one of the presidential debates for not saying definitively that he would accept the results of the election and then joining the recount.
“Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change,” he said in the first of a half dozen tweets Sunday.
Meanwhile, the state Republican Party is seeking volunteers and using the possibility of a recount to raise funds for the party.
“The Michigan Republican Party has been in touch with the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign and we are prepared to recruit volunteers, train them, and monitor all recount efforts to ensure that it is done in a fair and legal way,” Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan GOP, said in an e-mail to supporters. “And please … donate whatever you can to help us fight back.”
And Scott Hagerstrom, director of Trump’s campaign in Michigan, also asked supporters in an e-mail to continue their volunteer work and help by observing recounts across the state.
“We know that many on the progressive left will continue to work to discredit this election and reverse it, if possible,” he said. "A recount where we look the other way and do not participate, is their only chance. We stand ready to make sure every vote is counted properly.”
Stein, who only received 51,643 votes in Michigan, said she doesn't like either Trump or Clinton, but wants to ensure the integrity of the election.