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Losing US presidential candidates cry electronic vote foul, seek manual recount

Sunday, November 27th 2016 - 11:52 UTC
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Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein's move for manual vote recount is very unlikely to reverse Trump's victory Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein's move for manual vote recount is very unlikely to reverse Trump's victory

Former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has launched a campaign to recount the votes in three key states where Donald Trump seized victory. For the Republicans, it is just an “expensive political stuntt” since the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would need to reverse results in all three of those states to reach a different outcome.

 Stein and Reform Party candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente separately filed recount requests late Friday in Wisconsin — the state's first ever for a presidential race — on the final day they were able to do so. As liberals raised fears about hacked voting machines, Stein has raised more than $5 million to pay for recounts here and in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where recount deadlines are next week. That's more than the $3.5 million she raised as a candidate.

The push for recounts came as some questioned Trump’s wins in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But election experts noted that voting patterns in those states were similar to ones in other Midwestern states such as Iowa and Ohio.

Unofficial vote tallies in the three states show GOP nominee Donald Trump won Michigan by fewer than 12,000 votes, Wisconsin by fewer than 30,000 votes and Pennsylvania by fewer than 70,000 votes. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would have to win recounts in all three states to receive enough electoral votes to win the presidency, a remote possibility.

A federal “safe harbor” law requires presidential recounts to be completed within 35 days of the election. This year that's Dec. 13, two weeks and a day from this coming Monday.

Wisconsin law allows any candidate to seek a recount. The candidate has to pay if he or she lost by more than 0.25%, hence Stein's fundraising. She estimates a Wisconsin recount would cost $1.1 million.

Michigan's price tag could be about $787,500, based on a 2014 law that put the bill at $125 per precinct when the margin of a race is more than half a percentage point. Michigan has 6,300 precincts.

Pennsylvania is being targeted even with its wider Trump victory margin because two-thirds of the state's counties, including its most populous, use electronic voting machines that don't leave a paper trail. Experts have demonstrated that such machines can be hacked even without being hooked up to the Internet. Similar machines are scattered in some of the smaller counties in Wisconsin. About 1 in 10 votes in the state's April presidential primary came from such machines.

All of Michigan's voting machines have paper ballots that can be recounted, election officials there said. An article this week in New York magazine contended that Clinton received 7% fewer votes in counties with electronic voting compared to those with paper ballots.

Hitting a Dec. 13 federal deadline to certify electoral votes — 10 in Wisconsin, 16 in Michigan and 20 in Pennsylvania — could be particularly tricky in a by-hand recount, Wisconsin's top election official said. County boards of canvassers, which likely will have to work nights and weekends, will do the recounts. Elections officials in three states will have to move quickly if the Green Party's presidential nominee, Jill Stein, is able to force a recount to be conducted by hand.

More important than the Dec. 13 federal deadline is Dec. 19 — three weeks from Monday — when electors across the USA must meet to cast their Electoral College votes, said Edward Foley, an expert in election law at Ohio State University.

“You may potentially have the state electoral votes at stake if it doesn't get done by then,” said Michael Haas, the administrator of the Wisconsin Election Commission. A lawyer with Stein's campaign has said she wants the recount done by hand, something that Haas said would require a judge's order in Wisconsin and take longer in general.

Stein received just 1% of the vote in each of the three states. De La Fuente had about 1,500 votes in Wisconsin, a fraction of a percent of those cast here, and he was not on the ballot in the other two states.

“What we’re doing is standing up for an election system that we can trust. We deserve to have votes that we can believe in,” Stein said in a video on her Facebook page. “This is a commitment that Greens have expressed — that we stand for election integrity, that we support voting systems that respect our vote. We demand voting systems that are accurate, that are publicly controlled, that are not privatized.”

“Our plans are being drafted” for a recount, said Chris Thomas, director of elections at the Michigan Secretary of State's office. “We’re on top of it. We’ve got some blueprints on how it will be done.”

It's been nearly five decades since Michigan has had a statewide recount, most recently when the state's voters rejected daylight saving time in 1968 by 490 votes. This time, nearly 4.8 million presidential-race votes would have to be counted by hand at the county level under state supervision.

“We’re fast,” Thomas said. “We do all of our state recounts by hand.”

Wisconsin's most recent statewide recount was in 2011 for a state Supreme Court seat, and the outcome did not change. The recount showed Justice David Prosser defeated challenger JoAnne Klopenburg by 7,004 votes — a slightly tighter margin than the 7,316-vote victory he had in initial returns.

In recounts, typically both candidates gain votes, in part because absentee ballots that weren't counted initially get tallied, said political scientist Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Some absentee ballots don't get counted at first because they were damaged or had extra marks on them. The judicial recount took more than a month. This time Wisconsin election officials will have nearly double the number of votes, 3 million, to go through, Burden said.

“Jill Stein's decision to pursue a recount is absurd and nothing more than an expensive political stunt that undermines Wisconsin's election process,” Mark Morgan, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, said in a statement.


Categories: Politics, United States.

Top Comments

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  • Jack Bauer

    @ ChrisR
    Good joke.

    @ ElaineB
    I agree that the mass media is highly biased, inaccurate and unreliable, but that is also a result of the masses being too gullible to think beyond their noses.
    And unfortunately, election campaigns have become nasty and personal, instead of focusing on government policies, because people, in general, have lost all sense of decency.

    “About Clinton, I accept that anyone in that position has to make decisions that could get people killed.”
    Regarding the Benghazi incident in 2012, in retrospect it became clear that what caused the death of the US ambassador and 3 other Americans, was both BO's and Hillary's lack of a decision...they refused to acknowledge the seriousness of what was happening, and didn't think it was necessary for a carrier - that was on close standby - to intervene. At the time she said it was “not a coordinated terrorist attack, but a spontaneous attack of violence born out of a protest of an anti-Islamic video”…so it was unimportant ? that made it less dangerous ? ...and, as Secretary of State she had also rejected previous appeals to heighten security…I remember the hearings held afterwards to get to the bottom of it, and both BO and Hillary were less than honest in their attempt to cover their incompetence ; there was no doubt in the Navy's mind that had they been allowed to act, the outcome would have been quite different. Given the scenario in the region, anyone in her position should have acted very differently...but the government 'machine' intervened to brush it aside as a 'fatality', that no one could foresee...and that's it ?

    Nov 30th, 2016 - 09:42 pm +2
  • Jack Bauer

    Well, I think the democraPs are throwing US$ 5 million down the toilet....It funny that the democrats now support the theory that voting fraud is possible, considering the fact that has caused them to acknowledge such a possibility, and contradicting their initial repulse to such a suggestion ...just hope that when they realize they've thrown their money away, they'll settle down and keep quiet.

    Nov 28th, 2016 - 08:59 pm +1
  • Jack Bauer

    Agree. Many sources on the internet are just there to plant fake news....looking for other sources to corroborate, or to disqualify the information, is what someone with a minimum IQ would do...but today, listening to people being interviewd on the streets, you get a good idea of just how ignorant the majority of people are.
    It was notorious that under the PT (govts), many bloggers were paid milions every year, just to plant selected pieces of fake news on the internet , favouring the PT and criticizing the opposition...those who swallowed it, hook, line and sinker, as usual, were the ignoramus'.

    Dec 02nd, 2016 - 09:07 pm +1
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