Green Party candidate Jill Stein has announced her intention to request a recount in three swing states: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. These are the same states Hillary Clinton was urged to request recounts in by a computer scientist who suggested voting machines in those states may have been hacked by Russia. Stein doesn’t mention Clinton but does say the votes should be recounted because of concerns about foreign government hacking and unreliable voting machines.
Stein’s full announcement was posted on her campaign website. It reads in part:
The Stein/Baraka Green Party Campaign is launching an effort to ensure the integrity of our elections. We are raising money to demand recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania– three states where there is a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals. Please donate to this initiative today.
To give you a sense of the problem, the voting machines used in Wisconsin were banned in California after they were shown to be highly vulnerable to hacking and malicious programming due to lacking security features.
There is also a direct quote from Stein who says, “After a divisive and painful presidential race, in which foreign agents hacked into party databases, private email servers, and voter databases in certain states, many Americans are wondering if our election results are reliable.” She continues, “That’s why the unexpected results of the election and reported anomalies need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified. We deserve elections we can trust.” Emphasis in the original.
It’s true that “many Americans” are questioning the results of the election but almost all of them voted for Hillary Clinton, not Jill Stein. According to the New York Times, Stein received 1.1% of the vote in Michigan and Wisconsin and 0.8% in Pennsylvania. So there is no chance a recount could benefit her in any way, but it could (potentially) benefit Clinton.
Earlier today the computer scientist whose examination of the election results is behind the push for a recount, J. Alex Halderman, wrote a post on Medium arguing that hacking of voting machines by Russia was possible, though he also said he believed it was more likely the pre-election polls were simply wrong. Like Stein, Halderman said the vote counts should be verified for the sake of “electoral integrity.”
So at this point everyone pushing for a recount claims to be acting solely out of concern for electoral integrity, but given the timing of this announcement, the fact that it is focused on the same 3 states Halderman cited and that it mentions hacking as a concern, it’s fair to wonder if Halderman has been talking to Stein’s campaign as well as the Clinton’s campaign. Alternatively, it’s possible Stein was simply influenced by reading about Halderman’s finding. And one last possibility, maybe there some back-channel communication between the Clinton camp and the Stein camp?
The big question now is: Will the Clinton campaign piggyback on this announcement and support a recount (for the sake of “electoral integrity” of course). That would bring a cheer from progressives who are still despondent over the election results. Of course it’s also exactly the kind of challenge to the results which the media and the Clinton campaign ridiculed Trump for refusing to rule out before the election. Does Clinton really want her name associated with a late challenge that is unlikely to change the results?