NEW YORK – Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who garnered just 1 percent of the national vote, has raised more than $5 million of her $7 million goal in a crowd-funding effort to pay for a recount of the presidential elections in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, according to figures posted on her website Friday morning.
Stein officially filed a request to election officials in Wisconsin about an hour and a half before the 5 p.m. Central Time deadline Friday.
State Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas said in a written statement the commission “is preparing to move forward with a statewide recount of votes for President of the United States.”
“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,” he said.
The deadlines for filing for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania are next week. In Michigan, the state on Saturday certified that Trump won by 10,704 votes.
While Stein said her initial fundraising goal was $2.5 million, her campaign website now says she’s trying to raise a total of $7 million to cover the fees for filing costs, attorneys and statewide recount observers.
Stein raised only $3.5 million for her 2016 presidential campaign, prompting critics to charge that her ability to quickly raise nearly $5 million for an election recount indicates Clinton supporters are funding her.
Stein insists the point of her effort is not to help Clinton win.
“This is not being done to benefit one candidate at the expense of the other,” she said in a PBS NewsHour interview Thursday. “This is being done because Americans, you know, come out of this election not happy campers.”
Breitbart reported Democrats in Hollywood continue to insist that with the prospect of recounts, Clinton has not lost yet.
The Hill reported Wednesday that liberals searching for answers to Trump’s surprise victory have a new explanation: Hillary did not really lose. They contend an “audit the vote” movement could prove voting machine totals in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania were inaccurate.
In the third presidential debate, however, Clinton chastised Trump for his unwillingness to pledge that he would accept the outcome of the election, reserving the right to challenge voter fraud.
She called Trump’s statement “horrifying.”
“That is not the way our democracy works,” she said. “We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”
Could a recount result in Hillary winning?
Trump won 30 states, picking up 306 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232.
Winning Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, Michigan’s 16 and Pennsylvania’s 20 would be enough to change the outcome, giving Clinton 278 votes to Trump’s 260.
The spoiler aspect of Stein’s recount effort has led critics to dub it “Operation Steal.”
No recount in U.S. history has ever changed the outcome of a presidential election, including in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped a recount in Florida that Democratic candidate Al Gore had hoped would deprive Republican George W. Bush of a narrow win.
In 2000, Gore, like Clinton in 2016, had won the popular vote.
No real evidence of hacking
Stein’s recount effort traces to a New York Magazine report Tuesday of “a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers” who informed the Clinton campaign a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania is warranted because their analysis detected a pattern indicating it’s possible electronic-voting machines were manipulated or hacked.
“The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots,” New York Magazine reported.
The statistical analysis indicated Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes. She lost Wisconsin by 27,000.
But the magazine noted “the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation.”
The computer scientists argue, nevertheless, “that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.”
However, Politico reported Wednesday that one of the cyber security experts relied upon in the New York Magazine story — J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan — admitted that he had no evidence the 2016 presidential election had been hacked by Russia or anyone else in any state.
“Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyber attack?” Halderman asked in an article he posted online Wednesday. “Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked.”
Shane Harris in the Daily Beast wrote Wednesday that Clinton would have to win those states back in order to change the outcome of the election.
“And while it’s tempting to blame hackers, and not the failure of the political professional class, for Trump’s upset, experts warn not to get your hopes up for a shocking turnaround. For hackers to have changed the votes in three states would have been even more surprising than Trump’s victory,” he concluded.
Potential Trump challenges to states Clinton won
Meanwhile, efforts are under way to challenge the votes in three states won by Clinton: Nevada, Colorado and Virginia.
Operation Sabot 2016, launched by the group Oath Keepers is contesting vote totals in Clark County in Nevada; Denver and Boulder Counties in Colorado; and Richmond, Fairfax, and Henrico Counties in Virginia.
“In all three states there were precincts where over 95 percent of the vote went to Clinton with voter turnouts above 90 percent,” wrote “Navy Jack,” an anonymous Navy veteran leading the Operation Sabot 2016 charge on the Oath Keeper’s website.
“Richmond, Denver and Clark County had precincts with more votes than registered voters,” Navy Jack continued. “This is similar to what occurred in Philadelphia back in 2012. In Virginia, Governor McAuliffe issued 60,000 autopen pardons to allow felons to vote.”
Navy Jack continued to note that McAuliffe sent each pardoned felon a personal letter asking them to vote for Clinton, accompanied by a voter-registration form, ballot and a return postage paid envelope.
“In each of these cases, the President Elect appears to have been disadvantaged,” Navy Jack concluded. “If recounts and investigations become inevitable, expanding the list of states to also include states won by former Secretary Clinton would be appropriate.”
Recounts rarely change outcomes
Recounts have rarely succeeded in changing the outcome of elections.
One of the few exceptions was the 2008 Senate contest in Minnesota in which Democratic challenger Al Franken defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman after the initial count had Coleman winning by 215 votes. The recount included 953 previously rejected absentee ballots, and the State Canvassing Board on Jan. 5, 2009, declared Franken the winner by 225 votes.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia provide by law for automatic recounts if the margin between the two candidates is within a certain percentage point. In Idaho, for example, a recount is triggered if the difference is 0.1 percent of the total votes cast for the office.