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Jill Stein requests recount. What's next is still unclear.

Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio
An "I Voted" sticker that voters receive after submitting their ballots.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein today made an official request for a recount of votes in Michigan.

Michigan Radio's Capitol Bureau Chief Rick Pluta was at today's announcement. He joined Stateside from Lansing to explain the news.

Pluta said at the announcement, the Stein campaign again echoed what they’ve been saying all along.

“They said that this isn’t about any candidate – Republican, Democrat, Green or otherwise. This is about the integrity of the elections process,” Pluta said.

He said the campaign's request comes in response to two things:

There were 4.9 million paper ballots, similar to this one from 2008, cast in Michigan’s general election this year.

“One is that there were a lot more ballots cast – maybe 84,000 – than there were actually votes counted amongst all the presidential candidates,” Pluta said. “And they say that’s kind of a red flag. That’s an unusually high number.”

While yes, candidates this year were unusually unpopular, this still raises questions for the Stein campaign.

The other impetus behind the campaign’s request was a piece published in New York magazine, which suggested the election system could have been hacked.

“[The author] said the only way to check that is to go and match the results as they were tallied against the actual paper ballots themselves,” Pluta said.

This brings us to "uncharted territory," Pluta said.

“We’ve never had a multi-state presidential recount like this,” he said.

Potential cost

The cost we've heard thrown out for this process is $125 per precinct. But it’s possible the tab could run much higher than that.

The $125 per precinct cost was set by the legislature, Pluta said. But it was established with smaller recounts in mind, not a state-wide recount like this one.

He said it’s not yet clear what resources will be needed to see the recount through. Therefore, the cost is still up in the air. 

Right now, Pluta said, it appears taxpayers at the county level would be responsible for footing that bill.

What comes next?

“But this is not over yet,” Pluta said. “There’s still time for Republicans, or the Trump campaign, to file a challenge, an administrative challenge.”

The Board of State Canvassers, the state’s top elections board, meets Friday morning to respond to any challenges. But it’s a bipartisan board with an even number of members, and that means it’s a deadlock is possible. That would then freeze the recount for two business days.

So, it’s very possible the recount won’t begin until Dec. 6.

And the clock isn’t ticking, it’s thundering.

Federal law says a recount should be finished by Dec. 13, but Pluta said repercussions for not meeting that deadline are unknown.

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