Recounting Election 2016

Cartoon of Uncle Sam waking up with a surreal hangover

Jill Stein, who ran for president as the Green Party candidate, is demanding a recount of election 2016.   Stein, who garnered some 1.2 million (or roughly one percent) of all votes cast, says her aim isn’t to alter the election’s outcome but to verify its integrity.  She has netted over $6.2 million in online donations, enough to challenge the results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, swing states that went for Trump narrowly.  Stein claims that vote counts in some areas of these states are anomalous, at odds with exit polling, raising the possibility that the election was hacked.

Stein was a spoiler in the presidential race, in that she and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson drew off votes that might have boosted Clinton to victory over Trump.  Now, though, Stein is receiving a ‘miraculous’ flood of support from disappointed Clinton backers.  Clinton racked up a substantial lead over Trump in the popular vote, winning by over 2.2 million, but her support was too geographically concentrated to translate into an Electoral College victory.  Last week, Michigan was officially declared for Trump, bringing Trump’s electoral-vote tally to 306, versus Clinton’s 232.

Stein’s request for a recount rests primarily on the views of computer-security experts like J. Alex Halderman, who speculates that self-destructing malware could have been deployed to swing the results in a minimal number of counties.  Halderman thinks that electronic-vote records and machinery should be carefully examined and that paper ballots should be manually counted and checked against electronic returns in places where the digital-scanning method is employed.

Unlike in the 2000 election, when specific evidence from a specific locale provided clear evidence of procedural irregularities (the infamous ‘hanging chads’), Stein’s challenge is based mainly on speculation and theory, leaving open the possibility that another embarrassment for the big-data crowd is looming.

Given that Wisconsin’s recent gubernatorial recount of 1.5 million votes took more than a year, a recount of its larger presidential vote will likely be even more timeconsuming.  Meanwhile, though both President Obama and Hillary Clinton declared that Trump’s election represents the will of the people, the Clinton camp has since decided to get involved in the recount, ostensibly to see that the process is fair to all sides.  Earlier, Clinton, in considering whether to mount a challenge, had found no indication of foul play.

It’s doubtful whether a vote recount in three states could be completed before the Electoral College votes on December 19;  for states to participate, their elections must be certified by December 13.  Which brings us to the upshot of Stein’s undertaking: if recounts in the three states are ongoing, their 46 electors will be sidelined during the Electoral College.


Image: “The Morning After,” by Udo Keppler
for Puck magazine, November 6, 1912,
from this source.

6 responses

  1. Thanks for excellent Angela Davis link. I’m looking into intersectionality.

  2. I think Stein is being frivolous. I certainly am no fan of Trump, but the election is over. As you note, there has been no compelling evidence of any vote fraud–anywhere. Stein seems to be on some type of “fishing expedition.” It’s sad that Hillary has gotten mixed up in it too. . . . As for Trump, there is probably a good chance that he’ll finally cross too many lines and be impeached.

    • It looks like the recount effort is fizzling. Wisconsin is rejecting a hand recount of votes, while in Pennsylvania petitions for a recount must be made at the precinct level, of which PA has some 9,000. In many of the precincts, the deadline for petitioning has passed.

      This article offers a good recap of what’s happening on the ground:
      And this one on Michigan:

      Obviously the states are hurrying to resolve this by Dec 13.

      I don’t think Stein’s strategy makes any sense–it isn’t likely that voting machines (which are not part of the internet) were physically tampered with by Russian operatives, which seems to be the theory behind her petitions. Yes, she has gotten publicity by doing this, but it’s negative. The Green Party looks bad at this point because it has collected a lot of money for something that is unlikely to produce any public good. Clinton also looks bad, given that there are other more urgent problems the American public cares about more.

  3. The Republicans in Wisconsin are already tarnishing the state Democrats with this. I guess the election really was all about Jill Stein. Margie