Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A quick note about recounts

Several folks have asked about the possibility of a recount in this race.  I'm sure 2004 is still in the back of everyone's minds, so let's do a quick review of Washington recount law.

An automatic machine recount will only be triggered if the difference between Sanders and Wiggins is less than one-half of one percent (0.5%) of the total votes cast in the race AND if the total margin of victory is less than 2,000 votes.  The former seems all but certain to happen; as for the latter, my projections currently put this race well outside the recount margin.   But for those keeping score, in a statewide election like this one, a difference of less than 1,000 votes and one-quarter of one percent (0.25%) automatically requires a manual recount.

Either candidate could ask for  a recount, but the request must be made within three business days after the county canvassing board or secretary of state has certified the election (which is expected to happen on Nov. 23rd).  The requesting candidate must pay for the privilege, and the cost isn't cheap.  To conduct a machine recount, the requesting candidate must deposit 15 cents per ballot to be recounted.  With about 2.6 million ballots expected to be cast in this election, that's about $390,000.   A manual recount is even more expensive:  25 cents per ballot, or about $650,000.  However, if the outcome is reversed, the cost of the recount is reimbursed back to the requesting candidate. 

For the legally inclined, full details can be found in Washington's recount statute, RCW 29A.64

The Secretary of State's website also has a great FAQ on this topic: http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/osos/en/CandidateInfo/Documents/Recounts%20FAQ.pdf

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