By Patrick Colbeck

Anyone who has been reading the content at Let’s Fix Stuff for awhile knows that I am not a huge fan of election investigators pursuing recounts as a means of discovering election fraud.

What questions cannot be answered by recounts?

  1. How many ballots were Fraudulently “Stuffed” into ballot box?
  2. How many ineligible voters fraudulently cast ballots?
  3. What caused the variance between the certified and recount results?

What questions can be answered by recounts?

  1. How many ballots were stored by clerk?
  2. How many votes were cast across all stored ballots counted?
  3. What is the variance between certified ballot and vote count and recount values?

I believe that recounts should be an ingredient of any professional audit of the entire election record chain of custody, but there are very few circumstances where recounts should be an end in and of themselves.

Having said that, if you do find yourself pursuing a recount here are some tips on how to perform them effectively.

STEP 1: Preparation

The key to any meaningful recount is preparation.


Understand the recount rules

Be sure to read any official guidelines provided by election officials regarding the conduct of recounts. The following guide provided by the Michigan Bureau of Elections is a good place to start for Michigan.

MI Recount Process Summary

Other states are likely to have similar guides.

Understand the law.

In Michigan, the Michigan Compiled Laws including election law can be found at The key statutes governing the execution of recounts in Michigan are MCL 168.863, MCL 168.866, MCL 168.867 and MCL 168.880.

Sadly, that can often be significantly different from the “rules” handed out by the Secretary of State due to the lack of regular book audits. Book audits help to ensure that all guidance issued by the Secretary of State is compliant with the actual law. These “book audits” are analogous with regulatory compliance analyses in which proposed regulations from the executive branch are evaluated against the actual provisions of law.

It is often too late to school yourself on recount law after the recount has been conducted. Do yourself a favor so that your sacrifice of time is well spent by knowing the law beforehand.

Data Collection

Establish a benchmark for your recount efforts by clearly understanding the election results which have already been certified. In this pursuit, obtain copies of the following information from election officials by simple request or via FOIA requests prior to the recount:

  • Statements of votes for each precinct. These statements typically include the number of ballots cast and the number of votes cast for each candidate in a given contest. (Required)
  • Obtain candidate campaign data showing targeted number of votes for each precinct (If available)
  • Tabulator tapes for each tabulator used to count votes recorded on in-person and absentee ballots (Optional)
  • Collect incidents of malfeasance from poll challengers so that you know where to look for any evidence of malfeasance during the recount

Prepare this information in tables that can be shared with other recount observers so that everyone understands what the official benchmark is.


Once your election data has been obtained, put it to work.

  • Compare targeted number of votes with actual number of votes in Statement of Votes for each precinct
  • Rank precincts from highest variance to lowest
  • Determine if the sum of the variances would be sufficient to overturn the election results
  • Determine if there are any incidents of malfeasance that would warrant targeting any specific precincts for reasons other than significant variances. Under Michigan law MCL 168.872, if there are is evidence of fraud it may trigger an audit that goes beyond the scope of a simple recount.
  • Create a list of precincts that should be examined for a recount.

The analysis phase should help to conclude whether or not a recount would achieve the desired objective. A proper analysis of election will help to avoid any wasteful expenditure of time by volunteers or money by campaigns.


On the subject of expenditures, recounts are not typically free. Any candidate or representative of a ballot initiative seeking a recount needs to ensure there is sufficient to cover the recount should the results not be overturned. The following extract from the Michigan Bureau of Election Recount Summary document provides some idea of the funding requirements.

MI Recount Process Summary

As you can tell from the pricing model defined above, the larger the number of precincts which need to be recounted, the larger the financial liability. Statewide campaigns in this light can be particularly expensive.

File Petition for Recount

If your analysis indicates a path to success and you have sufficient funding reserved in case it is not successful, you are ready to conduct a recount. Petitions for recounts must then be filed with the pertinent governing authorities. These authorities should be explicitly defined in recount manuals and/or in state law.

MI Recount Process Summary

Be sure to pay attention to timing requirements necessary for recounts.


Once a petition for a recount has been filed, you will need to organize volunteers to serve as poll observers. Ideally, you have a sufficient number of poll observers to cover each precinct undergoing a recount. You would be well-served to ensure that you have extra observers available in case there are conflicts between the recount timelines and the availability of observers. The process of coordinating volunteer assignments can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of conducting a recount.

STEP 2: Execution

Establish Site Leaders

Once your recount petition has been filed, you will be notified as to when and where the recount will be conducted. If there are multiple locations, ensure that there is a designated recount leader for each location who has access to the data collected during the Preparation step.

Train Your Recount Observers

Ensure that your observers are well-trained in the recount process and governing law prior to the recount. Train your site leaders first and then equip them to train the other recount observers that will be working with them.

Onsite Preparation

Before the ballot containers are opened for the recount, there will typically be an opportunity to ensure that the site is prepared to conduct the recount. Election officials will be present that should be able to answer some fairly basic questions regarding the tabulation of the results.

Remember, a recount is simply a means of verifying that the votes have been tabulated correctly. If electronic voting systems are used to conduct this tabulation, make sure that you have as much information as possible about specifically which systems were used. This information may indicate evidence of election fraud that could be addressed at the completion of the recount.

Observers also need to check and see if there are ballot containers for the targeted precincts. They should ensure that these containers have the appropriate seals applied in order to improve confidence that there has been no tampering of the ballots in preparation for the recount. A recount of phony ballots is a phony recount.

In order to assist in their observations, each observer should be equipped with a form similar to the one below.

Recount Observer Form

The information highlighted in gray should be completed prior to the opening of any ballot container.

During Recount

During the recount, use the white space provided to indicate votes for each ballot measure and capture notes pertinent to the conduct of the recount including any statutory violations or process anomalies.

STEP 3: Analyze Results

Once the recount of votes in each precinct has been completed, the recount observer forms should be provided to the recount leader for each site. If there are multiple sites, the recount leader should provide the forms for their site to the overall recount coordinator.

The recount coordinator can then consolidate all of the data from the recount forms into a single report such as the MS Excel file available by clicking on the figure below.

Election Recount Summary Spreadsheet

The results can then be analyzed to determine whether or not the recount results justify a change to the certified results.

STEP 4: Take Appropriate Action

Once a recount has been concluded, one or more of the following actions may be taken:

  • Certified election results have been confirmed and no further action is required
  • Certified election results need to be updated by pertinent boards of canvassers
  • There is sufficient evidence of fraud to trigger the conduct of an audit that will investigate if other election records have been subverted in a manner sufficient to overturn the election results.

Each of these actions would be conducted in accordance with established law.

STEP 5: Communications

It would be nice if the results of a recount would be shared in context of what it does or doesn’t mean by media outlets, but that doesn’t always happen. Often, regardless of the results of a recount, opposing sides of a given ballot measure will use the results to push a narrative biased towards their cause. Be prepared to engage in this battle of competing narratives in the wake of the recount…and often during the recount. Press releases should always be prepared that carefully assert what was found by the recount and what was not found by the recount. Always promote the truth and you will sleep well at night.


One of the major reasons that I am not a fan of recounts is that, once the results are released, recounts tend to inoculate the public against any further investigation of a given election. My investigations have revealed that the bulk of election fraud, even the fraud enabled by electronic voting systems, would never be detected during a recount. So I have found that our election laws and election officials often attempt to steer citizens concerned about election fraud into conducting recounts so that they can put the integrity of the election to bed quickly.

As you can see, a recount is not a trivial undertaking. It requires significant investment of time and money to execute. Furthermore, unless properly messaged, the conduct of a recount may be used as a pretense to dismiss any allegations of election fraud. Recounts only examine a very thin slice of the election record chain of custody. As such, they are not compelling indicators of election integrity. Only a full-forensic audit of the entire election record chain of custody could result in such a declaration.


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17 thoughts on “TOOLKIT: Election Recounts”
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  8. Whether you believe in God or not, this is a must-read message!!!

    Throughout time, we can see how we have been slowly conditioned to come to this point where we are on the verge of a cashless society. Did you know that the Bible foretold of this event almost 2,000 years ago?

    In Revelation 13:16-18, we read,

    “He (the false prophet who decieves many by his miracles) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

    Referring to the last generation, this could only be speaking of a cashless society. Why? Revelation 13:17 tells us that we cannot buy or sell unless we receive the mark of the beast. If physical money was still in use, we could buy or sell with one another without receiving the mark. This would contradict scripture that states we need the mark to buy or sell!

    These verses could not be referring to something purely spiritual as scripture references two physical locations (our right hand or forehead) stating the mark will be on one “OR” the other. If this mark was purely spiritual, it would indicate only in one place.

    This is where it really starts to come together. It is shocking how accurate the Bible is concerning the implatnable RFID microchip. These are notes from a man named Carl Sanders who worked with a team of engineers to help develop this RFID chip

    “Carl Sanders sat in seventeen New World Order meetings with heads-of-state officials such as Henry Kissinger and Bob Gates of the C.I.A. to discuss plans on how to bring about this one-world system. The government commissioned Carl Sanders to design a microchip for identifying and controlling the peoples of the world—a microchip that could be inserted under the skin with a hypodermic needle (a quick, convenient method that would be gradually accepted by society).

    Carl Sanders, with a team of engineers behind him, with U.S. grant monies supplied by tax dollars, took on this project and designed a microchip that is powered by a lithium battery, rechargeable through the temperature changes in our skin. Without the knowledge of the Bible (Brother Sanders was not a Christian at the time), these engineers spent one-and-a-half-million dollars doing research on the best and most convenient place to have the microchip inserted.

    Guess what? These researchers found that the forehead and the back of the hand (the two places the Bible says the mark will go) are not just the most convenient places, but are also the only viable places for rapid, consistent temperature changes in the skin to recharge the lithium battery. The microchip is approximately seven millimeters in length, .75 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a grain of rice. It is capable of storing pages upon pages of information about you. All your general history, work history, crime record, health history, and financial data can be stored on this chip.

    Brother Sanders believes that this microchip, which he regretfully helped design, is the “mark” spoken about in Revelation 13:16–18. The original Greek word for “mark” is “charagma,” which means a “scratch or etching.” It is also interesting to note that the number 666 is actually a word in the original Greek. The word is “chi xi stigma,” with the last part, “stigma,” also meaning “to stick or prick.” Carl believes this is referring to a hypodermic needle when they poke into the skin to inject the microchip.”

    Mr. Sanders asked a doctor what would happen if the lithium contained within the RFID microchip leaked into the body. The doctor replied by saying a terrible sore would appear in that location. This is what the book of Revelation says:

    “And the first (angel) went, and poured out his vial on the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image” (Revelation 16:2).

    You can read more about it here–and to also understand the mystery behind the number 666:

    The third angel’s warning in Revelation 14:9-11 states,

    “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.'”

    Who is Barack Obama, and why is he still in the public scene?

    So what’s in the name? The meaning of someone’s name can say a lot about a person. God throughout history has given names to people that have a specific meaning tied to their lives. How about the name Barack Obama? Let us take a look at what may be hiding beneath the surface.

    Jesus says in Luke 10:18, “…I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

    The Hebrew Strongs word (H1299) for “lightning”: “bârâq” (baw-rawk)

    In Isaiah chapter 14, verse 14, we read about Lucifer (Satan) saying in his heart:

    “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

    In the verses in Isaiah that refer directly to Lucifer, several times it mentions him falling from the heights or the heavens. The Hebrew word for the heights or heavens used here is Hebrew Strongs 1116: “bamah”–Pronounced (bam-maw’)

    In Hebrew, the letter “Waw” or “Vav” is often transliterated as a “U” or “O,” and it is primarily used as a conjunction to join concepts together. So to join in Hebrew poetry the concept of lightning (Baraq) and a high place like heaven or the heights of heaven (Bam-Maw), the letter “U” or “O” would be used. So, Baraq “O” Bam-Maw or Baraq “U” Bam-Maw in Hebrew poetry similar to the style written in Isaiah, would translate literally to “Lightning from the heights.” The word “Satan” in Hebrew is a direct translation, therefore “Satan.”

    So when Jesus told His disciples in Luke 10:18 that He beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven, if this were to be spoken by a Jewish Rabbi today influenced by the poetry in the book of Isaiah, he would say these words in Hebrew–the words of Jesus in Luke 10:18 as, And I saw Satan as Baraq O Bam-Maw.

    The names of both of Obama’s daughters are Malia and Natasha. If we were to write those names backward (the devil does things in reverse) we would get “ailam ahsatan”. Now if we remove the letters that spell “Alah” (Allah being the false god of Islam), we get “I am Satan”. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    Obama’s campaign logo when he ran in 2008 was a sun over the horizon in the west, with the landscape as the flag of the United States. In Islam, they have their own messiah that they are waiting for called the 12th Imam, or the Mahdi (the Antichrist of the Bible), and one prophecy concerning this man’s appearance is the sun rising in the west.

    “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.'” (Revelation 14:6-7)

    Why have the word’s of Jesus in His Gospel accounts regarding His death, burial, and resurrection, been translated into over 3,000 languages, and nothing comes close? The same God who formed the heavens and earth that draws all people to Him through His creation, likewise has sent His Word to the ends of the earth so that we may come to personally know Him to be saved in spirit and in truth through His Son Jesus Christ.

    Jesus stands alone among the other religions that say to rightly weigh the scales of good and evil and to make sure you have done more good than bad in this life. Is this how we conduct ourselves justly in a court of law? Bearing the image of God, is this how we project this image into reality?

    Our good works cannot save us. If we step before a judge, being guilty of a crime, the judge will not judge us by the good that we have done, but rather by the crimes we have committed. If we as fallen humanity, created in God’s image, pose this type of justice, how much more a perfect, righteous, and Holy God?

    God has brought down His moral laws through the 10 commandments given to Moses at Mt. Siani. These laws were not given so we may be justified, but rather that we may see the need for a savior. They are the mirror of God’s character of what He has put in each and every one of us, with our conscious bearing witness that we know that it is wrong to steal, lie, dishonor our parents, murder, and so forth.

    We can try and follow the moral laws of the 10 commandments, but we will never catch up to them to be justified before a Holy God. That same word of the law given to Moses became flesh about 2,000 years ago in the body of Jesus Christ. He came to be our justification by fulfilling the law, living a sinless perfect life that only God could fulfill.

    The gap between us and the law can never be reconciled by our own merit, but the arm of Jesus is stretched out by the grace and mercy of God. And if we are to grab on, through faith in Him, He will pull us up being the one to justify us. As in the court of law, if someone steps in and pays our fine, even though we are guilty, the judge can do what is legal and just and let us go free. That is what Jesus did almost 2,000 years ago on the cross. It was a legal transaction being fulfilled in the spiritual realm by the shedding of His blood.

    For God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). This is why in Isaiah chapter 53, where it speaks of the coming Messiah and His soul being a sacrifice for our sins, why it says it pleased God to crush His only begotten Son.

    This is because the wrath that we deserve was justified by being poured out upon His Son. If that wrath was poured out on us, we would all perish to hell forever. God created a way of escape by pouring it out on His Son whose soul could not be left in Hades but was raised and seated at the right hand of God in power.

    So now when we put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14), God no longer sees the person who deserves His wrath, but rather the glorious image of His perfect Son dwelling in us, justifying us as if we received the wrath we deserve, making a way of escape from the curse of death–now being conformed into the image of the heavenly man in a new nature, and no longer in the image of the fallen man Adam.

    Now what we must do is repent and put our trust and faith in the savior, confessing and forsaking our sins, and to receive His Holy Spirit that we may be born again (for Jesus says we must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God–John chapter 3). This is not just head knowledge of believing in Jesus, but rather receiving His words, taking them to heart, so that we may truly be transformed into the image of God. Where we no longer live to practice sin, but rather turn from our sins and practice righteousness through faith in Him in obedience to His Word by reading the Bible.

    Our works cannot save us, but they can condemn us; it is not that we earn our way into everlasting life, but that we obey our Lord Jesus Christ:

    “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:9)

    “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’

    Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’

    And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'” (Revelation 21:1-8).

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