State Rep. Aaron Miller, chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee, today voted to advance two measures to protect taxpayers from footing the bill for recounts in elections that are not closely contested.
“The ridiculous 2016 recount charade for which Michigan taxpayers were forced to foot the bill shows just how important it is to update our statutes before it happens again,” said Miller, of Sturgis. “These bills protect tax dollars while still preserving the integrity of the recount process for instances in which it is truly necessary.”
Under current law, if the number separating the winning candidate is more than 50 votes or half of 1 percent of total votes, the candidate requesting a recount pays $125 per precinct. Otherwise, the candidate making the request pays $25 per precinct.
In 2016, presidential candidate Jill Stein, who requested a statewide recount despite losing by more than 2 million votes in Michigan, incurred $973,250 in fees. The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office estimated the cost of a full statewide recount in the millions.
“While everyone has the right to simply request a recount, they should not be allowed to waste public tax dollars when the outcome of the election is not going to change,” Miller said.
Senate Bill 290 requires candidates who lose by a significant number of votes to pay an increased fee if they request a recount. The bill applies a $250 per-precinct fee when the number of votes separating the winning candidate and the petitioner is more than 75 votes or 5 percent of the total number of votes cast in the race, whichever is greater.
House Bill 5012 clarifies that candidates claiming to be “aggrieved” for the purpose of seeking a recount must be able to allege a good-faith belief that, if not for fraud or mistake, they would have had a reasonable chance of winning the election.
Both of the bills received unanimous bipartisan support today in committee. They now move to the full House for consideration.