5 Things to Know About a Contested Election | NECN
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

Full coverage of the race for the White House

5 Things to Know About a Contested Election

In the event of a close vote, state law determines how recounts work

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    NEWSLETTERS

    So what happens if the presidential election is contested? NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams explains the sometimes-lengthy process -- and explains what the future may hold for a Supreme Court appointment. (Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016)

    Recounts and legal challenges can take months to play out in some cases, but not in the election of a president: the Constitution sets strict deadlines, and not just the date for the inauguration.

    There have been some long fights for office elsewhere, NBC News reported.

    When Norm Coleman of Minnesota ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008, the election night count showed him beating Al Franken by a mere 725 votes. That triggered a process of recounts and court battles that played out for eight months. Al Franken wasn't sworn in until July 2009.

    In Washington state, Dino Rossi gave up fighting seven months after it appeared he'd been elected governor in 2004 by a margin of 261 votes, when a third recount declared Christine Gregoire the winner.

    One of the important things to know about elections is that, in the event of a close vote, state law determines how recounts work.