And so we arrive on day four of the election, as America waits with bated breath.
Overnight, things have taken a turn in two of the key battleground states, which are comprised of a handful of states wherein Biden and Trump have been playing tug-of-war since November 3. In both Pennsylvania and Georgia, Biden has pulled ahead of Trump–though just barely.
As of this morning, he leads Pennsylvania by 8,873 votes and Georgia by an even smaller margin, barely leading by 1,587 votes. In the western battleground states that Biden has been leading–Nevada and Arizona–the difference is also narrow, though his lead has been fluctuating slightly due to mail-in ballots.
It’s still too early to say it’s in the bag. Especially in Georgia, where the margin is so small, recounts are most likely on the way as the state’s last couple thousand ballots are added to the mix. Recount laws are established by the state; in Georgia, as long as the margin is less than 0.5% of casted votes, a candidate is allowed to request a recount. In Pennsylvania, a statewide recount is mandatory if the winning margin is also 0.5% or less, while a county recount can be done if three voters request it. As for Arizona, a recount is also mandated if the margin between the candidates is equal to or less than 0.1% of the total number of votes. Michigan requires a recount if the margin is equal to or less than 2,000 votes, but a candidate is also allowed to request a recount if they claim there has been fraud or a mistake when they would have otherwise had a shot at winning. Nevada’s laws are a little different: the losing candidate can request a recount within three days of final results regardless of the margin, but they must also put down a deposit that’ll cover the estimated cost to recount ballots. And finally, in Wisconsin, a candidate is able to request a recount if the margin is under 1%.
The Trump campaign has already started filling lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia, and has announced that it will request a Wisconsin recount. Trump himself has also sown seeds of doubt in the election process, making fallacious and arbitrary claims that caused Twitter to flag his tweets as “misleading.” Amongst these statements are claims about fraud and how Democrats are “stealing” the election. Even Republicans are torn about these allegations, with some denouncing these claims and others supporting them.
But despite calls for recounting, history has shown time and time again that recounts rarely impact the results. In past recounts, including Wisconsin in 2016, rarely has there been a flip in the results. In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin by a margin of over 20,000 votes, similar to the lead Biden now holds over Trump; however, a recount actually gave the winner 131 more votes. In a 2011 judicial race, the margin was 7,300 votes. The winning margin was changed by only 312 votes. In another judicial race in 2014, a recount shrunk the margin by a mere 17 votes, from 5,427 to 5,410.
Although history apparently has a tendency to repeat itself, there’s still no telling what will happen as final vote counts roll in and recounts get underway. All we can do now is wait.