Green Party nominee Jill Stein put out a fundraising appeal in order to launch a recount of the vote in three key swing states that went to Donald Trump — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — despite her party having won only 1 percent of the vote.
The Green Party did not single out any specific evidence of fraud, nor does it need proof of irregularities to call for a recount. Instead, Stein said, “After a divisive and painful presidential race, reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many Americans to wonder if our election results are reliable. These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified. We deserve elections we can trust.”
A small but vocal group of scientists and activists have emerged in recent days advocating for a recount on the basis of Trump’s wholly unexpected win and concerns about Russian involvement in the election. They note that only a small minority of public polls predicted Trump’s success, and though public polls have been wrong before the magnitude of their error this cycle was unprecedented.
They also point to evidence Russian hackers infiltrated the Democratic National Committee and potentially a top adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign as evidence of both plausible ability and a reasonable cause for a hacking. And hackers compromises voter records in Illinois and attempt to breach voting systems in a handful of other states prior to the election.
Clinton’s campaign officials have not commented on Stein’s efforts, which hinge on the Green Party’s ability to pay for a recount.
Stein tells supporters she needs to raise “over $2 million by this Friday, 4 p.m. central” in order to put her plan to action. The deadline to file for a recount in Wisconsin is Friday, while the deadlines for Pennsylvania and Michigan are next week. Recounts are costly to conduct, and each state requires various fees depending on the size of the vote lead and how expansive the recount is.
A recount wouldn’t change the outcome for her. She came in fourth, behind Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Trump, taking a little less than 1.4 million votes overall.
But there’s a small, albeit unlikely, chance that a recount in those states could boost Clinton. Trump won Michigan by about 9,500 votes, Wisconsin by 22,500 votes and Pennsylvania by 69,700.
Given the relatively wide margin for Trump, and Clinton’s narrow advantage in more traditionally blue states like Minnesota, it’s unlikely the voting machines were to blame. Most political observers agree the more likely reason for Clinton’s loss was an unforeseen breakdown in the Democratic turnout machine in key states, and Democrats simply staying home. There was no evidence of any vote tampering on Election Day, and even flipping one state in Clinton’s favor wouldn’t give her the Electoral College votes needed to win.
Last week, two experts advocating for a recount, voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, sought to lobby the Clinton campaign to file for a recount in key states, but their efforts, one person on the call said, were rebuffed.
“While many of us were hoping Clinton’s campaign would pursue this, it seems clear they won’t, because they said there’s no clear proof of fraud” at the ballot box, which candidates typically cite in calling for a recount, that person said.
The source said it was clear the Clinton advisers were also concerned about not disrupting the transfer of power or causing further unrest over the Trump presidency, which has already sparked protests and marches across the U.S. in the weeks since Clinton conceded and Trump became president-elect.
But proof of fraud is both “usually unattainable and also unnecessary” in many states to file for a recount, the person on the call said, and at the very least it would allay concerns from voters who insist the results of the election don’t reflect them.
“There’s either a huge subset of hidden voters that didn’t tell pollsters how they were going to vote, or something went awry with those voting systems. If we can X out that second option, why not?” the source said.