Jill Stein's Election Recount Effort Has Raised $7 Million and Changed Nothing

Created: 05 December, 2016
Updated: 21 November, 2022
5 min read

Here at IVN.us, the integrity of the voting process is very important, so any hint of foul play or voter fraud is something we take an earnest interest in understanding and reporting accurately and comprehensively.

As a forum for independent and third-party voters, the writers and editors here have also been very gracious toward and inclusive of the presidential candidacy and issues raised by Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein.

I know a lot of people here continue to applaud her efforts to reign in and check the worst excesses and blind spots of the bipartisan status quo.

So it is with the utmost credibility and objectivity that IVN would publish this piece you are reading now, with some skepticism and criticisms of Jill Stein and the Green Party's electoral recount efforts in the key presidential swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Since she announced the recount effort two weeks ago, Stein has raised over $7 million toward funding the legal fees and logistical costs associated with these ambitious recounts.

The first and most obvious question here is why recount? What has led Jill Stein to question the results of these contests in the first place? As Stein tweeted over the weekend:

On Monday, I will escalate #Recount2016 in PA and file to demand a statewide recount on constitutional grounds. The people deserve answers.
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) December 4, 2016

Answers to what question?

The push for a recount in these states is predicated on the concern that the electronic voting systems there could be at risk of hacking, not that they have been hacked, not even that they might have been hacked, but that someone could have hacked them. There's currently no specific, credible allegation of voting machine hacking.

As Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said in a statement:

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"It is unusual that a candidate who received just 1 percent of the vote is seeking a recount, especially when there is no evidence of hacking or fraud, or even a credible allegation of any tampering."

The next obvious question is if there was any credible question regarding the accuracy of the final vote tally or any realistic chance that a recount would change the results in these states, where is the Hillary Clinton campaign?

But as Clinton lawyer Marc Elias told The Washington Post: "If the campaign thought that the results could change based on a recount, we would have sought them. We didn’t."

He also wrote a post on Medium detailing just how extensively the Clinton campaign has investigated claims of voting irregularities and turned up nothing amiss:

"First, since the day after the election we have had lawyers and data scientists and analysts combing over the results to spot anomalies that would suggest a hacked result. These have included analysts both from within the campaign and outside, with backgrounds in politics, technology and academia.Second, we have had numerous meetings and calls with various outside experts to hear their concerns and to discuss and review their data and findings. As a part of this, we have also shared out data and findings with them. Most of those discussions have remained private, while at least one has unfortunately been the subject of leaks.Third, we have attempted to systematically catalogue and investigate every theory that has been presented to us within our ability to do so.Fourth, we have examined the laws and practices as they pertain to recounts, contests and audits.Fifth, and most importantly, we have monitored and staffed the post-election canvasses — where voting machine tapes are compared to poll-books, provisional ballots are resolved, and all of the math is double checked from election night."

If anyone has the motive and means to uncover election fraud in these states, it's the Hillary Clinton campaign, a well-funded, professional political machine which has already been at work looking into this, and found no leads worth pursuing as far as forcing statewide recounts.

Among the thousands of recounts in modern U.S. electoral politics, very few have ever overturned the first official tally, and no presidential election result has ever been overturned by a recount. And the few times a statewide race has been overturned by a recount, it's been with truly razor thin margins, not the tens of thousands that Donald Trump leads by in each of these three states.

For instance, Al Franken's U.S. Senate bid in 2008 successfully overturned the original statewide vote tally in Minnesota after originally losing by a margin of only 206 votes out of 2.9 million ballots cast. Another notable example was the 2004 Washington state gubernatorial race which swung State Attorney General Christine Gregoire from trailing by 261 votes to winning by 129, out of 3 million votes cast.

While the quixotic bid to recount all three states' votes seems uncalled for and likely to lead no where, it does have many costs. It's a very time and energy-consuming undertaking and will likely cost the taxpayers of these states in addition to the willing donations of Green Party backers.

Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party said Monday morning she is "outraged that Jill Stein is trying to use the courts to change the outcome of the Michigan election" after "all votes were counted and certified by the Board of Canvassers." Adding, "this recount is an incredible waste of Michigan taxpayers' money."

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Even the donors' money could arguably be spent better elsewhere -- say the Louisiana Senate runoff scheduled to take place Dec 10th. Democrats and Green Party voters could make more of a difference donating to the underdog, populist Democrat in that race

"Louisiana's low-profile Senate runoff, in which Democrat-turned-Republican John Kennedy is heavily favored, takes place on Dec. 10. Foster Campbell, the populist Democrat who made the runoff, has raised just $1,461,752 — or less than half as much as the recount campaign raised in a day."

Still, the $7 million raised by the Green Party could be put to good use after the dust settles on this recount effort. Jill Stein's donation page says any money not spent toward the recount, "will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform. This is what we did with our surplus in 2004."

Photo Source: AP