If you’re like me, you’ve been off the internet the last few days due to traveling, visiting your family and hanging out with friends, and you’re just now reacquainting yourself with our harsh reality living in a shitshow of a country. While you were away, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein raised millions of dollars for a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — three states where the margin of votes between Trump and Clinton were the smallest compared to other states. According to USA Today, “Trump won in Michigan by less than 12,000 votes, Wisconsin by less than 30,000 and Pennsylvania by less than 70,000.” All three were upsets that ultimately led to Trump’s victory, even though Clinton leads the popular vote by more than 2 million votes now. Currently, Stein has raised over $6 million for recount efforts and has successfully filed for recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, with Michigan in the works.
On Wednesday, Stein announced crowdfunding efforts for a recount in those states in the name of “election integrity.” Stein’s campaign came a day after New York Magazine reported top computer scientists and election lawyers urged the Clinton campaign to seek a recount because they believed the results in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked, with a concern that the Russian government could be behind it.
J. Alex Halderman, the director of the Center for Computer Security and Society at the University of Michigan, expanded on his thoughts in a post on Medium, where he said a cyberattack was unlikely in this case but possible. He explained that Michigan, Wisconsin and parts of Pennsylvania use paper ballots, which aren’t hackable, but the optical-scan computers that count those ballots could be hacked. Halderman writes:
“I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don’t believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other. The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence — paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts.”
Since the Clinton campaign didn’t find any evidence of hacking or tampering with voting technology, they didn’t pursue a recount. In order for a recount to happen, an appeal must come from a presidential candidate — in this case, it was Jill Stein, who is also responsible for the costs. Stein’s website says it’s going to take a total of $7 million for recount efforts in all three states — $2.2 million for filing costs in addition to attorney’s fees and the costs of statewide recount observers.
Stein told NPR she’s not interested in helping Hillary Clinton but is interested in fair elections.
“In my view, this is not likely at all to change the outcome, and that’s what the computer and voting security experts say as well,” Stein told NPR. “They are not expecting the outcome to change here. But it’s the voters who benefit by standing up and saying we deserve a voting system that is secure in which we know our votes are being counted and our votes are being respected.”
Clinton’s campaign will be participating in the recount process in Wisconsin as well as the other two states if Stein follows through with her plan. In a post on Medium by Marc Elias, Clinton’s general counsel, wrote although they didn’t find any “actionable evidence” for a recount, they “intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.” He continues on with: “But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.”
Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump has called the recount “ridiculous.” “This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing,” Trump said in a statement. My, my, my, how the tables have turned, Donny. Let’s just remember that at the last presidential debate, he refused to say he would accept the election results. Think Progress also pointed out that his campaign manager said Trump wouldn’t concede until the election “results are actually known, certified and verified” back in October. On Sunday, Trump also claimed on Twitter he won the popular vote because millions voted illegally, which totally discredits his own argument. I’m sure you know this by now, but Trump really doesn’t give a shit about being fair or playing by the rules.
There’s no telling what will come out of this recount process. Maybe we’ll find out that there was some hacking involved. Maybe they’ll just confirm what we already knew about America. I guess we can only hope with all our might, just like all the people who donated to Stein’s campaign, that this dude isn’t our president.