Stein: Let's recount PA, too

Sure, why not? After all, Donald Trump won Pennsylvania by over 68,000 votes — more than three times the gap in Wisconsin. Jill Stein’s crusade for ballot integrity knows no boundaries! Except perhaps the boundary of New Hampshire:

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is taking steps to initiate a recount in Pennsylvania, three days after filing for a recount in Wisconsin. Recount requests were filed Monday in more than 100 Pennsylvania precincts, according to her campaign.

“The Stein recount effort is mobilizing concerned voters across Pennsylvania to request recounts in their precincts,” Stein campaign manager David Cobb said in a statement. “Additionally, the campaign filed a legal petition in state court today on behalf of 100 Pennsylvania voters to protect their right to substantively contest the election in Pennsylvania beyond the recounts being filed by voters at the precinct level. This petition will allow the campaign to pursue a full statewide recount in Pennsylvania if precinct-level recounts uncover any irregularities or tampering.”

I’m old enough to remember when people on the Left demanded instant compliance with election results, and that anything less was “horrifying.” In fact, I’m old enough to recall when the media found it horrifying, too. Here’s Jonathan Capehart at the Washington Post concurring with Hillary on challenging results post-election on October 20th:

“I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I’ll look at it at the time,” Trump said to aghast moderator Chris Wallace. When Wallace pressed him, Trump said, “I’ll keep you in suspense. Okay?” No. It’s not okay. It’s “horrifying,” as Clinton said. And it’s a frightening prospect with all the anger unleashed by Trump and all his talk about rigged elections designed to deny him the White House. But what Trump did last night is also destabilizing for the world.

Capehart hasn’t come out in support of Stein’s efforts to “destabilize the world,” but he hasn’t exactly used the same platform to condemn it, either. Suddenly, using the options open to candidates are perfectly normal and not at all freighted with horror and fright. Ballot integrity — it’s the new “dissent is patriotic”! That’s a good thing, of course, and a very good reason to keep electing Republicans to the presidency. It makes checks and balances suddenly relevant to all of the people who used to say I won and It’s the law.

But if ballot integrity and correction of possible tampering is the issue, why single out Wisconsin and Pennsylvania? Why not focus on states like New Hampshire, where the gap is small enough (2,736 votes) for the outcome to possibly (but unlikely) be influenced by ballot-integrity issues? Because Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire, that’s why.

Carl Bialik explains why these recounts have no chance of changing outcomes:

Recounts typically don’t swing enough votes to change the winner. Out of 4,687 statewide general elections between 2000 and 2015, just 27 were followed by recounts, according to data compiled by FairVote, a nonpartisan group that researches elections and promotes electoral reform. Just three of those 27 recounts resulted in a change in the outcome, all leading to wins for Democrats: Al Franken’s win in Minnesota’s 2008 U.S. Senate race, Thomas M. Salmon’s win in Vermont’s 2006 auditor election and Christine Gregoire’s win in Washington’s 2004 gubernatorial race.

Recounts also typically don’t change the margin by an amount that would be large enough to affect the result of this year’s presidential election. The mean swing between the top two candidates in the 27 recounts was 282 votes, with a median of 219. The biggest swing came in Florida’s 2000 presidential election recount, when Al Gore cut 1,247 votes off George W. Bush’s lead, ultimately not enough to flip the state to his column. In each state Trump won or leads in, his advantage is more than 10,000 votes, according to counts to far. Some statewide races that have undergone recounts have far fewer votes than the closest states in the 2016 presidential race, but even in percentage terms, the average swing was 0.2 percentage points, which could be enough to flip Michigan but not any other states (and therefore not the Electoral College; even with Michigan, Clinton would be 22 electoral votes short of the 270 needed to win).

And thanks to Trump’s odd remarks about three million illegal voters over the weekend, the White House once again assured us that no fraud took place in the presidential elections. The only instructive aspect of these recounts will be the exposure of hypocrisy on the part of Hillary Clinton, whose campaign has joined Stein’s “horrifying” exercise, and the media that amplified her comments and have suddenly become much more silent on the need for stabilization after the election.