Michigan finalizes election results amid recount effort
Campaign 2016 | While his opponents demand recounts in three swing states, the president-elect claims millions voted illegally
by Evan Wilt
Posted 11/28/16, 03:35 pm
WASHINGTON—Election officials in Michigan have finally announced a winner in the Nov. 8 election. President-elect Donald Trump will collect the state’s 16 electoral votes, bumping his total to 306 over Hillary Clinton’s 232.
Trump won Michigan by just two-tenths of a percentage point—10,704 votes—the state’s closest presidential contest in more than 75 years. It’s the first time a Republican has won the state since 1988.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein plans to ask for a recount, one of three such requests in swing states that sparked tweets of protest from Trump on Sunday.
“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump wrote.
His comments came a day after Clinton announced she will join Stein to request a recount in Wisconsin. Current national popular vote totals place Clinton ahead of Trump by more than 2 million ballots, but she came short in key swing states needed to win the election. Stein successfully petitioned for a recount in Wisconsin and is working to do the same in Michigan. She hoped for a recount in Pennsylvania, but missed the deadline. Trump won all three states by about 100,000 votes combined. Recount proponents claim an audit of election totals is healthy, but the president-elect asserts the real problem is fraudulent voters tipping the scales for Democrats.
In subsequent tweets, Trump said he would have won the popular vote if the United States did away with the Electoral College because he would have focused his campaign efforts on a handful of populous states.
“I would have won even more easily and convincingly (but smaller states are forgotten)!” he tweeted. Trump claims serious fraud influenced outcomes in Virginia, New Hampshire, and California but the media isn’t reporting it. Clinton edged out Trump in each of those states.
In a conference call with reporters this morning, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said it’s premature to announce the Trump administration will investigate voter fraud but it’s certainly an issue of concern. Miller added the media should give as much attention to illegitimate ballots as they do to Stein and Clinton’s recount efforts.
Stein received about 1 percent of the total votes cast in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. She said she wants recounts in all three based on principle, not because she thinks she’ll win.
“What we’re doing is standing up for an election system that we can trust,” Stein said in a video on her Facebook page. “We deserve to have votes that we can believe in.”
The Clinton campaign made a similar argument when it announced it will support a Wisconsin recount.
In a post on Medium.com, Marc Elias, the Clinton team’s general counsel, acknowledged he had no evidence to suggest the recount will make a difference in the election.
“Regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, 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,” Elias said.
According to data from FairVote, only 27 of 4,687 statewide general elections between 2000 and 2015 prompted recounts. Just three of the 27 changed the outcome of the election—each led to wins for Democrats: Al Franken’s win in Minnesota’s 2008 U.S. Senate race; Thomas Salmon’s win in Vermont’s 2006 auditor election; and Christine Gregoire’s win in Washington’s 2004 gubernatorial race. But a recount has never changed the outcome of a national election.
The median adjustment for the top two candidates in the 27 recounts is 219 votes. The largest change was Florida’s 2000 presidential election recount, when Al Gore’s total jumped 1,247 votes.
About 11,000 votes in Michigan, 22,000 in Wisconsin, and 70,000 in Pennsylvania would have to swing from Trump to Clinton to change the outcome.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission met today to approve a Dec. 13 cutoff date for its recount, but it blocked Stein’s request to recount votes by hand. She quickly announced she will sue. Stein will petition Michigan before its deadline on Wednesday.
Evan is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Washington, D.C.