Even as third party candidate Jill Stein continues to mount a legal battle to force a statewide recount in Pennsylvania, the voting totals in the state have been wildly fluctuating since election day. Pennsylvania first claimed that Donald Trump had won the state by more than seventy thousand votes, but has now reduced that total to fewer than fifty thousand. As such, Philadelphia is now engaging in a voluntary recount. And under state law, if the results in Philadelphia shift by a certain margin, it will trigger an automatic statewide recount.
Philadelphia announced the voluntary recount earlier today, which we reported, as did the city’s local NBC affiliate. Ahead of the Philly recount, the statewide vote totals have been shifted as various precincts have found more votes they missed the first time, or corrected errors, such that Donald Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania is now around 0.8%.
Under state law, if that drops to 0.5%, Pennsylvania will be legally required to hold an automatic statewide recount. Officials in the state would not be able to stop it from happening, even if they opposed it. Nor would Donald Trump be able to stop the recount by going to court. So what would the Philadelphia recount need to turn up in order to mathematically prompt the statewide recount to kick in?
Pennsylvania’s official election website currently lists (at the time of publication of this article) a statewide total for Donald Trump of 2,955,671 votes, and a statewide total for Hilary Clinton of 2,906,128 votes. That gives Trump a lead of 49,543 votes, which works out to a 0.84% lead. In order to reach the 0.5% threshold, Trump’s statewide vote total would need to drop to 29,308 votes. That means the Philadelphia recount would need to produce results that close Trump’s current statewide lead by around twenty thousand votes.
That’s a hefty number. But on the other hand, Pennsylvania has already closed the gap by more than twenty thousand votes just through precinct level revisions – so a shift of another twenty thousand is theoretically possible. Even if the Philadelphia recount fails to bring Trump’s statewide lead under 0.5%, any shift in the numbers would give Jill Stein more legal fuel for making the case to the courts that a statewide recount is appropriate.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report