But unlike the 2008 cycle, when President Barack Obama’s campaign machine was able to effectively coordinate poll watching and subsequent recounts, Democrats said this year feels significantly less coordinated, with the campaign committees and individual campaigns doing much of the work themselves.
“In ’08, it was a very well-oiled machine. But this time it feels very disjointed,” one Democratic attorney said.
State elections officials have also been preparing for the possibility of recounts. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who oversaw the 2008 Senate recount, said he has heard from officials in Colorado and Oregon, where polls have been up and down for the statewide races.
“When it’s so unstable, that’s when you can get a recount,” he said, noting that his election administration team had projected that the 2008 race would require a recount. “The statewide recounts are very unusual, but they are really high octane.”
NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay said the GOP is prepared “for the reality that many of their races will not be decided on Election Day,” with staff and volunteers on hand if they are needed.
A GOP attorney who has been involved in past recounts said that at this point, Republicans are “doing the relatively traditional things” in preparing, including putting together teams of lawyers and dispatching volunteers to monitor vote counting and other Election Day activities.
But the real action is unlikely to come until later in the week after it becomes clear which races are close enough to warrant contesting the results.
“The problem with recounts, frankly, is you can never tell where they’re going to be. And where you think they’re going to be, they’re not,” the lawyer said. “It’s always a last-minute scramble.”
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.