December 3, 2016
Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, wants a recount in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s difficult to see why. Certainly she will not win the election nationally or in those states, having won small fractions of the vote there, as elsewhere. If a recount moved all three states into the Clinton column, she would win. The odds of that are small, so it’s difficult to imagine that Stein expects that to happen. Even if it could, why would Stein want Clinton to win, after running against her, and making very negative statements about her? Is it a desperate save-us-from-Trump reaction similar to the plea that electors from Trump states violate their oaths? Is Stein feeling guilty of costing Hillary the election? It’s true that Stein’s votes were more than the Trump margin in Michigan, and Wisconsin and, as of yesterday, in Pennsylvania. Whatever the motivation, the three states Clinton would need are the only states targeted by Stein.
None of that matters, according to Dr. Stein, who claims that this is merely an exercise in good government. "Our effort to recount votes in those states is not intended to help Hillary Clinton. These recounts are part of an election integrity movement to attempt to shine a light on just how untrustworthy the U.S. election system is." Also, her application is disinterested: "The Stein/Baraka campaign is well positioned to lead the effort as election integrity advocates, without a personal conflict of interest in the outcome." The identification of the campaign with the recount is odd considering this disclosure: "Though Jill Stein was a Green Party presidential candidate, the party did not endorse the recount initiative. Her 2016 vice presidential running mate, Ajamu Baraka, is not a plaintiff."
As to evidence supporting recount, Stein offers this: "We are conducting these recounts because independent election experts have pointed to 'statistical anomalies' in the presidential election results in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Experts who have studied our voting system for years have concluded many of our voting machines are hackable." Is that true in only those states? The coincidence is a little hard to accept.
"Whether these machines were hacked by foreign or domestic agents will be determined by using the mechanisms available to us in each state we conduct a recount. Statistical anomalies could arise through other means, as well." In other words, all they have to go on is speculation or, to put more kindly, suspicion. This is confirmed by an affidavit by Stein’s expert: "One explanation for the results of the 2016 presidential election is that cyberattacks influenced the result. This explanation is plausible, in light of other known cyberattacks intended to affect the outcome of the election; the profound vulnerability of American voting machines to cyberattack; and the fact that a skilled attacker would leave no outwardly visible evidence of an attack other than an unexpected result."
However, in addition to the absence of "outwardly visible evidence," this all seems somewhat aimless; he adds: "Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don’t believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other."
There seems to be a long-term political motivation as well; one of Stein’s recount web pages tells us: "Independently funded candidates like Jill Stein cannot stand a chance if our electoral system is rigged in favor of establishment, corporate-funded candidates." How does "rigged in favor of the establishment" square with hacking, possibly by "foreign agents"?
Another explanation was offered by Greg Palast, based on comments by a lawyer involved in the recount: it isn’t about hacking, but about possible errors in software used to tabulate votes, and about ballots discarded due to alleged irregularities. However, the latter is contrary to the description of the problem and the evidence on the Stein web sites, which make only a passing reference to discarded ballots, and the recount procedure doesn’t seem oriented toward them. As to the former, Palast conceded that the Stein forces do not have access to the computer codes.
It’s impossible to make sense of all of this. The decision of the Clinton campaign to join in the recounts is less mysterious, but unfortunate, as is not only looks like sore losing, but also allows Trump fans to say, "See, Clinton thinks it’s rigged too. Didn’t her people tell us to accept the results?" However, the response by pro-Trump organizations to the recounts has been a mixture of outrage and panic.
This continues to be a strange election year.
83. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/11/28/jill_stein_requests_recount_in_ pennsylvania_but_has_no_evidence_of_fraud.html
85. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/38553-the-no-bs-inside-guide-to-the-presidential-vote- recount