Election Update

On Nov. 4 Donald Trump’s campaign said it will request a recount in Wisconsin. Wisconsin was called for Joe Biden by the Associated Press with 95% of its expected votes reported and Joe Biden leading by a small margin of 0.7% or 20,517 votes.

This is within the threshold of 1% that Wisconsin requires for a campaign to request a recount. However, state law prevents either campaign from asking for a recount before all counties were canvassed and all unofficial counts are declared. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, “It will likely be Wednesday before all the unofficial results are in.”

Recounts rarely overturn initial results and never by such a large margin. In the 15 years between 2000 and 2015, 27 recounts occurred and only three resulted in a change of result. The largest swing of vote margin happened in 2000 and resulted in George W. Bush’s lead over Al Gore shrinking by 1,247 votes in Florida.  

The margin in Wisconsin is slightly smaller than the 22,748 votes with which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016. When a recall was requested by Jill Stein that year an additional 131 votes swung to Trump. Provided the margin remains above 0.25%, the Trump campaign will have to pay the costs of the recount, an estimated $3 million.

A Wisconsin recount would mean a hand-count of over three million votes. In 2016 this process was not completed until Dec. 12.   

With only five states left uncalled by AP, Wisconsin’s 10 electoral college votes would likely prove critical to either presidential candidate.