Here’s the first fact you need to know about recounts: Whatever the president or anyone else says, they’re a legitimate part of vote counting and the electoral process. Here’s the second fact you need to know about recounts: It is vanishingly rare that they actually change the initial result.
Those are both important to recall as several notable elections drag on. In Georgia, it’s still not clear whether the Democrat Stacey Abrams can narrow the margin with the Republican Brian Kemp enough to trigger a recount. In Florida, officials on Thursday ordered a hand recount of votes in the U.S. Senate race. The Florida governor’s race is outside the required legal threshold for a hand recount, though legal wrangling continues, and some votes continue to stream in by mail. In all three races, Republicans lead, but Democrats are hoping that a recount could overturn the current status quo and hand them the race or, in Georgia, trigger a runoff.
Without delving into the specific factors of each of the races involved—voter suppression in Georgia, mysterious ballot boxes and dubious ballot designs in Florida, among others—and no matter what Chuck Schumer says, the odds that any recount will reverse the initial results are slim.
But sometimes it does happen. Losing a race under such circumstances is awful—but people who have been on the winning side don’t have fond recollections either.