Third-party representation at recounts?

In their ongoing coverage at FiveThirtyEight of the recount in the US Senate race in Minnesota, one off-hand remark caught my attention:

Theoretically, a campaign could also argue that a vote has been counted for the wrong candidate (e.g. Coleman argues that a Franken vote should be a Coleman vote, rather than a no-vote), but I’d guess that these cases are exceptionally rare. One exception may be votes for third-party candidates (e.g. a Barkley vote that Coleman wants counted as a Coleman vote), where a campaign might have a slightly easier time closing the sale since the third-party won’t have representation in the room; […]

Emphasis mine. In a comment, I asked*:

Why are there no representatives of Barkley present? Yes, I know he has no chance of emerging the winner. But I would assume that, as a candidate in a disputed election, he would have a legal right to have agents present as ballots are reviewed. (For instance, to prevent one of the campaigns from tipping the race by converting marginal Barkley ballot marks into votes for their own candidate.)

So, is his absence a matter of law, or just practicality (such as financial constraints, or inability to recruit observers)?

Several subsequent comments address mine, with one stating that there is indeed no legal right to third-party representation in a recount (and seemingly surprised that the question would even arise).

I wonder if anyone reading F&V can confirm that. I suppose I should not be surprised or appalled if this is the case, but I suppose I am, nonetheless.

* Edited to fix some rather bad syntax in the original.

2 thoughts on “Third-party representation at recounts?

  1. Yikes. It goes back to my old saw that the principal parties in any election proceeding are the electors, not the candidates. In every Australian jurisdiction any candidate, whether electable or not, has the right to have scrutineers present at every stage of the count.

  2. Indeed, Alan, I was very much thinking of your past comments to that effect when putting in my comment over at 538.

    And, in fact, I just echoed (and cited) this argument over at 538, the gist of my comment being:

    In this race, a majority of voters will have voted for someone other than the eventually declared winner, and a substantial minority will have voted for a candidate other than the two whose vote totals are currently too close to call.

    The best way to represent “the voters” [as the real party in an election dispute] is not to have only agents of the top two present. This point would hardly seem odd to almost anyone from outside the US.

    (Welcome back; we had not seen you in a while, Alan.)

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