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What would a presidential recount look like in Missouri?


While Missouri’s election results were quickly resolved on Election Day — for the most part — some states are facing recounts over the presidential election. 

Recount laws vary from one state to another. Here’s a look at what a recount would look like in Missouri and an overhead view of near-misses for the state.

What does Missouri law say about recounts?

State law contains similar mandates for presidential elections as statewide or local contests. In order for a presidential candidate to challenge election results, the results must be within a .5 percent margin. The race must be challenged within seven days of an election’s certification; Missouri does not require automatic recounts. 

Recount teams would be selected by the Secretary of State’s Office and required to manually recount ballots. If the results of the recount differed from the original margin by more than half a percent, the team would alert the election authority, who would investigate the discrepancy. The results would then be published by the Secretary of State’s Office, which would also reimburse the county for associated costs. 

The recount would be required to take place within 20 days of the challenge. Election authorities themselves could also request a recount based on errors of omission. 

Missouri’s history with presidential recounts

While the state has not faced a presidential recount to date, a few elections have fallen in or around the contestable margin in recent history. 

The second time Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson II faced each other on the presidential ballot in 1956, Missouri voters were thinly divided. Stevenson won the state by a mere .22 percent, well within the contestable range. In the following cycle, John F. Kennedy won the state’s votes by a .52 lead over Richard Nixon. Neither race was contested.

In 2008, Barack Obama lost Missouri to John McCain by a mere .14 percent; no challenge was issued over the race. 

And 2016 could have seen challenges over both presidential primaries

Both contests came down to a thin line in Missouri that year. The Democratic primary saw a close margin after Election Day, with Hillary Clinton earning 49.6 percent of the blue vote, leading Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by .24 percent. Donald Trump won the state by an even thinner margin. The eventual president won 49.83 percent of the vote in the Show-Me State, a mere .21 percent more than Texas Senator Ted Cruz. 

Neither losing candidate contested the results; Missouri’s Democratic delegates narrowly split their vote, with Clinton earning one delegate over Sanders. And 37 delegate votes went to Trump while Cruz earned 17. 

The race for HD 135, which came down to a margin of .19 percent as of Tuesday, could potentially see a recount challenge after results are officially certified next month.