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The times a recount actually changed the election results

It happens...rarely.

Chances are good if you’re reading this, you know about the still unconfirmed Georgia governor’s race.

Republican Brian Kemp declared himself the winner of the race and has started to craft a transition team, but Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams said she will not concede the race until each vote has been counted.

The hope from the Abrams camp is to force a recount and/or runoff. That got us thinking. Do recounts ever change the results of an election?

The short answer- rarely.

Typically, recounts just don’t swing enough votes to change the winner. According to FairVote, a nonpartisan group that researches elections, only 27 elections out of 4,687 statewide general election between 2000 and 2015 ended up with recounts.

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And of those, only three resulted in a change of the winner, all leading to wins for Democrats.

Here’s a closer look at those races and how the recount changed the outcome.

2004: Washington’s Governor’s Race

Votes Cast: 3 million

Original Result: Republican Dino Rossi beat Democrat Christine Gregoire by 261 votes.

The Recount: This race was changed after not one, not two, but three recounts. The first was a re-scan of electronic ballots, which showed Rossi only had a 42 vote lead over Gregoire. The second was a hand recount requested by the Democratic party which put Gregoire ahead by 10. The hand recount also uncovered hundreds of missing ballots that gave Gregoire a 129-vote lead. The Republicans sued, and months later the election was settled by a final recount, which added four more votes to Gregoire’s lead.

2006: Vermont’s Auditor’s Election

Original Result: With 137 votes over Democrat Thomas Salmon, Auditor Randy Brock, a Republican, was certified as the winner.

The Recount: A recount, requested by Salmon, lead to the discovery that some of his votes were mistakenly attributed to a third-party candidate for office. A judge overturned the results after the recount, which gave Salmon a 102-vote lead over Brock.

2008: Minnesota’s Senate Race

Votes Cast: 2.9 million

Original Result: A 206-vote lead gave Republican Senator Norm Coleman a win over Democrat Al Franken.

The Recount: Franken pulled ahead by 312 votes, after a several months-long recount of all the state votes. Although Coleman tried to fight the recount results in court, the Supreme Court declared Franken the winner six months later.

Meanwhile, back to 2018 and Georgia…by Georgia law, any candidate in any election must receive 50 percent of all votes cast, plus one vote, to be named the winner of that election. If that does not happen for any single candidate in that race, the top two vote-getters in that race will proceed to a runoff election.

Once the vote is certified, there will be an answer for the governor's race.