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EDITORIAL: Making sure our votes mattered

Michigan recount worth time, money spent

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on Aug. 19, 2016 at the Holiday Inn Lower East Side, in New York City, N.Y. Stein has said she is pursuing a presidential recount in Michigan because of the number of blank ballots in Michigan's presidential election results. (Dennis Van Tine/Abaca Press/TNS)

Throughout the 2016 campaign cycle, one question bothered Central Michigan

University students voting for the first time: Do our votes matter?

In print and online, we extolled our faith in the electoral process. For us, the election outcome was unfavorable – Central Michigan Life endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. We have not lost faith in that process, blemishes and all.

We accepted the results as fair. Now, nearly a month removed from Election Day, computer scientists and data analysts, including one from the University of Michigan, have called the credibility of ballots cast using electronic voting machines into question.

Their evidence is shaky at best, but rumblings of tampering or some kind of random technology fault have made enough waves to set off calls for a recount.

At present, Green Party candidate Jill Stein is leading the charge, raising nearly enough money to start recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and our home state of Michigan.

A recount won’t overturn Trump’s victory. But we should explore whether Michigan’s vote was fair and unhindered.

We unequivocally support the recount effort based on principle alone.

Recounting ballots that show even a minute chance of fraud or alteration is necessary to protect the integrity of the electoral process – a process that we hold dear.

Stein was expected to file her formal recount request on Wednesday. The federal deadline for Michigan to solidify their official electoral college votes is Dec. 13, making any recount effort a literal race against time.

According to the Detroit News, missing that deadline could be costly, and state officials warn that taxpayers could end up footing the bill. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson estimates that hand-counting the state’s 4.8 million votes could cost up to $2 million if the recount crosses over the December deadline.

That money would pay for new recounting infrastructure, including staff and space, and that amount could change depending on how long it takes.

Unlike Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Michigan does not have established rules or an apparatus to conduct post-election audits to check the validity of the results, according to Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s general counsel. A post-election audit would look at a random sampling of precincts, tabulating those votes for a second time, and comparing those numbers with the initial election night results.

Michigan is not alone – many other states refuse to perform such audits. Elias called that unfortunate. We agree.

Each state should perform some sort of double-check to ensure the accuracy of election night results. At the very least, have a plan on the books in case an audit is necessary. We call on state officials, our legislators and Gov. Rick Snyder to review Michigan’s policy on post-election audits.

All we ask is for our leaders to be responsible stewards of our democracy.

We hope that they have as much faith in the process as we do.

The events of this election cycle have been wholly unprecedented.

That’s still no excuse to be ill-prepared if irregularities and tampering sours the sanctity of our elections.