Jill Stein could be on the hook for millions of dollars to cover the cost of a Michigan election recount if a Republican-sponsored bill is enacted into law. HB 6097 would require candidates more than 5 percent of the vote behind the winner to pay the entire actual cost of a statewide recount, and it would be retroactive to the beginning of 2016. It would only apply to statewide and federal offices. House Elections Committee Chair Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, introduced the bill last week and it passed out of that committee on Tuesday, Dec. 6. All five Republicans on the committee approved moving the bill forward. Democrats Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, voted against it and Democrat Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline, abstained. A recount of Michigan’s vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election began Monday. Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, is paying a required fee of $973,250, but Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has said the actual cost could be $2 million or more.
Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, questioned making the proposed law retroactive, saying it was unfair “to change the rules in the middle of the game.” But his amendment to make the change effective in April 2017 was defeated on a 5-3 party-line vote.
Irwin also questioned the presumption “that the only important outcome in a recount is an actual change in the election.” He argued the current recount is serving as an important “audit” of the process that could uncover fraud as well as “simple incompetence” by election officials.