Close races in Pennsylvania prompt recounts, how the process will work

PITTSBURGH — Two deadlock races, one a statewide race against Republican senate hopefuls and the other a local democratic congressional race, both separated by a few hundred votes.

The difference is that one will likely trigger a mandatory recount while the other will not, and in fact if a recount is desired in the congressional race the candidate may be footing the bill.

“Summer Lee and Steve Irwin have no greater right to a recount than anyone that lives in that district,” said Kristin Kanthak, a political scientist at the University of Pittsburgh.

In smaller district races anyone in the voting area can demand a recount, but only if they believe there’s fraud and they have the support of two other people and are willing to place a $50 deposit to pay for the recount.

“If they’re willing to put down to $50 they will recount those votes at any precinct,” said Kanthak. She added, “You don’t get to demand a recount just because you want a recount.”

But with state races, the threshold for a recount is automatic.

“The trigger for a recount of statewide races is a margin of victory of one-half of 1% or less, “said Jonathan Marks, the Pennsylvania deputy secretary of elections.

Marks said the candidate could waive the recount, which has happened on three out of six occasions since the rule was enacted in 2004.

“We’ve actually pushed the recount forward half of the time and the other half of the time that candidate’s decided to wait,” said Marks.

And the process of a recount can be pricey. The deputy secretary said the last state recount cost upwards of $1 million.

It also takes quite some time.

“The recount has to be finished no later than June 7,” said Marks.

Next Thursday is when a recount would be triggered if needed in the GOP senate race.

Precincts would need to begin recounting by June 1.