Here's What Happens If There Is An Election Recount

This year's election has been unique in a number of ways, not the least of which has been the underlying fear that President Donald Trump will not accept the results should he lose to Joe Biden. Most of us remember his famous promise in 2016 that he would accept the election results "if I win," leaving no small amount of uncertainty and stress regarding what he would do if he didn't win (via CNN).

However, as we wait to learn the final vote counts from critical swing states, the lingering uncertainty has revealed some answers to these four-year-old questions. Namely, Trump has responded by threatening lawsuits and claiming wins in states that are still tallying votes in tweets so littered with falsehoods they're being fact-checked in real-time (via CNN). But, with such close margins in Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, calls for a recount are increasingly likely. Here's what you need to know about each state's recount policies and how long the whole process could realistically go on.

How long a recount could really take

Before you get too concerned, CNN writer Zachary B. Wolf seems confident that even widespread recounts likely won't materially change the outcome of the election. In Wisconsin, for instance, where the Trump campaign is already threatening to call for a recount, the margin of 20,000 votes is what former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called a "high hurdle" to overcome (via CBS News). Wisconsin has until December 1st to recount their votes.

However, in closer-margin states, the threat of a recount could change things, and unfortunately for the impatient among us, the process could drag on for weeks. Georgia, for example, is still sorting through mail-in ballots, and with such a close margin — less than 2,000 votes, as of writing — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger said on Friday that there is likely going to be a recount (via CBS News). The recount process in that state alone could take until November 20th to be completed, according to CNN. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has an election certification deadline of November 23rd, the same as Michigan, while Nevada's is November 24th. So, if any or all of these states are required to conduct a recount, we could be waiting until the end of the month before the election is officially concluded.