Here Paul Lehto reminds us that recounts, as we do them nowadays, are hit-or-miss affairs, because they only count a sample of the ballots cast. Thus recounts can be gamed –as was the inconclusive recount of some presidential ballots in New Hampshire in 2004 (carried out at the insistence of Ralph Nader).

The only sort of recount that would do the trick would be complete recounts of all the ballots (where there are paper ballots, not just electronic signals).


In demanding recounts, one should always keep in mind, and in the public’s mind, that a recount only detects a sliver of election fraud and error — specifically it only detects errors or fraud in the count or interpretation of ballots. A recount (or any audit) can not and will not detect even your basic stuffed ballot box. A stuffed ballot box will produce an inflated first count, and one can recount a stuffed ballot box a hundred times and not be any wiser about the fraud. A clean recount does not equal a clean election. Paul Lehto, J.D.

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