Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Friday that he planned to file a lawsuit to block Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein’s requested election recount efforts in the state. His stated reason is that Jill Stein clearly lost the vote in Michigan and a recount won’t change that, however, it is also worth noting his unstated reasons: Schuette supported Donald Trump in the election and plans to enter the Republican primary for Michigan’s governor in 2018.
While other factors better elucidate Schuette’s motivations, let’s examine his original claim. Schuette is correct. There’s not a chance in the world that a recount would reveal that Stein actually earned the electoral votes of Michigan (nor would they yield that result in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, for that matter). But the Stein campaign isn’t filing for recounts in these states because she thinks she won the election. In reality, these recounts are to ensure election integrity.
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver points out that a recount could more accurately be named an election audit. While recounts are unlikely to have an impact in any but the closest elections, an official recount aims to ensure the veracity of every vote and to investigate any possible irregularities that may have occurred. Stein has chosen to target Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin because all three are traditionally blue states that Trump won by the narrowest margins – only 0.2 percent. If any irregularities did occur during the election, they would be most impactful in these states. In particular, Wisconsin used voting machines that have already been banned in California because of their security risks.
Let me be clear: it’s very unlikely that Trump’s electoral victory was the result of tampering, since it can be easily explained by examining demographic trends in voting. It is also not likely that Hillary Clinton supporters may have tampered with the results or that errors occurred due to honest mistakes. However, in an election where Trump has repeatedly claimed that electoral fraud can easily occur, it is important to examine the system to ensure that there were no such irregularities, particularly in the states where tampering could have produced the greatest effect. After such a divisive election, the last thing Trump or the American people would want is the dark cloud of a possibly rigged election hanging over our next president.
It’s also worth noting that the Green Party has a history of calling for recounts to ensure election integrity. In 2004, the Green Party funded the audit when John Kerry supporters began to float the idea that the George W. Bush campaign had tampered with results in Ohio. While the state’s result did not change, one election official was found guilty of electoral fraud. The 2016 recount campaign has already earned $6.8 million, almost twice the $3.5 million raised by Stein’s general election campaign. This clearly demonstrates that even Americans who may not have supported Stein’s presidential bid see the value in her actions to ensure electoral integrity.
While Stein initially raised enough to file for recounts in all three states, Wisconsin has since retaliated by more than tripling its filing fee from $1.1 million to $3.5 million.
If you would like to support the campaign for election integrity, visit jill2016.com and contribute to her effort to ensure fair and democratic elections for our country.
Alex Hayes is the President of the Hofstra Green Party
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