Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has raised almost $6 million to petition the states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to recount votes in order to determine if hacking skewed the election away from the expected victor, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
In all three states, President-elect Donald Trump won an upset victory with a tiny margin. If the trio had gone blue, as was expected, Mrs. Clinton would have earned enough electoral votes to secure the election. Proponents of the recount have compared it to instant replay in a sporting event, but critics say it undermines confidence in the electoral process.
While Clinton supporters are holding on to their last hope to see her in the White House, the Obama administration has announced that the election was not hacked, by Russians or anyone else.
“The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian government-directed compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the president-elect,” the Obama administration wrote in a statement.
“Nevertheless, we stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people," it added.
Ms. Stein filed the Wisconsin petition just 90 minutes before the state’s 5 p.m. deadline on Nov. 25, after reports from data experts and election lawyers that a cyberattack could have manipulated the results. They said that throughout Wisconsin, Clinton performed more poorly in counties that used voting machines than those using paper ballots.
“We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice,” Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas said in a statement. “We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating.”
Wisconsin's latest election recount, over a state Supreme Court seat in 2011 in which 1.5 million people voted, cost the state $520,000. However, that cost is expected to be considerably higher for this presidential election in which 2.975 million Wisconsin residents cast ballots.
As the person calling for the recounts, Stein must cover these costs – as well as the costs of recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan – which is why her campaign has raised millions from voters dissatisfied with the election outcome. She has estimated that the filing fees and attorney fees will cost between six and seven million dollars, of which she has so far raised about $5.7 million.
Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides...
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.
Mr. Trump issued a statement Saturday calling the Stein recount effort a "scam."
"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 (Green Party leader) Jill Stein is doing," Trump said in a statement, according to Reuters.
"This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than one percent of the vote overall and wasn't even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount," Trump said.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Homeland Security said they did not detect "any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting ourelectoral process on Election Day,” low voter confidence demands more accountability for potential glitches in the voting process.
“Examining the physical evidence in these states – even if it finds nothing amiss – will help allay doubt and give voters justified confidence that the results are accurate,” wrote J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan who has shown that some American voting machines can be hacked, in a piece for Medium.
“It will also set a precedent for routinely examining paper ballots, which will provide an important deterrent against cyberattacks on future elections," Professor Halderman said.