By Bob Fitrakis, Ohio Green Party
Jill Stein’s multi-state presidential recount was unprecedented. The idea originated from a group of computer scientists represented by attorney John Bonifaz, who after analyzing the U.S. computerized voting system found it to be vulnerable to hacking and manipulation. Social scientists and statisticians deemed some of the 2016 election results to be improbable. Election integrity volunteers and attorneys stepped up to help sort it out.
Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, agreed to ask for recounts in three states: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The donation page went online the afternoon before Thanksgiving. The recount was quickly financed in a few weeks by 150,000 small donors at the grassroots level across the political spectrum.
But if you were watching Fox News or reading Facebook during the recount you would think Stein, with a suspicious and nefarious agenda, was at best working undercover for the Clinton campaign or at worst, involved in a political payola campaign scam to enrich herself.
In reality, she was using the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency on International Development (USAID) standards of election integrity that every democratic country on the planet is held to—except the United States.
That standard is simple: If there is a significant mismatch between exit poll numbers and official vote totals, it is assumed something is amiss. In the case of this November’s presidential election, 13 states had exit poll-vote total mismatches that raised red flags with discrepancies that were far outside the margin of error. Twelve went for Trump and one for Clinton.
In the Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida exit polls, Clinton was ahead but Trump won the official vote count. In fact, in 24 out of 28 states there was a shift to Trump. This wouldn’t happen except once in every 52,440 presidential elections. Statisticians predict that this should be more evenly divided between the two candidates. All three states chosen for the recount admitted errors in their official vote counts, all in Trump’s favor.
Stein raised $7.3 million for the recount, all funds being segregated in a special bank account overseen by the Federal Elections Commission to be spent only on the recount. Her costs are estimated to be $7.4 million.
Bonifaz and the computer scientist group also approached Clinton to challenge the suspicious election results, but she declined to act.
Trump campaign super PACs and state officials did everything they could to block an actual valid recount. Bruce Dixon of the Georgia Green Party, writing for Black Agenda Report, summed it up best: “U.S. elections are intentionally and fundamentally broken and rigged, recount-proof and audit-proof; . . . state and federal courts are willing to issue patently absurd rulings from the bench to keep it that way.”
In the three states, the recount efforts revealed numerous problems with voting machines. Many are outdated, having no recourse to verifiable paper ballots. They are subject to possible hacking through USB drives inserted by vendors. The machine owners will not provide source codes, even when required by law.
In each of these states the exit polling numbers varied by significant percentage points from the reported vote totals. In each instance, such an outcome is highly unlikely to occur. Each state had unique circumstances of politicians working to undermine the recounts, Republican groups lobbying against them, and judges making contorted ruling. Stein’s request to examine the voting machines that lacked a paper trail was rejected. Allegheny County is the second most populous county in the state. Common Pleas Senior Judge Joseph M. James, in a classic Catch-22, ruled that since Stein lacked evidence of voting irregularities, she couldn’t examine the electronic voting machines for irregularities.
Stein stated the purpose of the recount: “Despite overwhelming evidence and consensus from cyber-security and computer science experts that our election system is vulnerable to hacking, manipulation, malfunction and human error, the political establishment in Washington has dismissed the need for comprehensive recounts of the 2016 election. Concerns about the security and accuracy of our election system extend into the realm of human and machine error, where there is already evidence before our eyes of widespread machine failure. We must get rid of tamper- and error-prone electronic voting machines and work toward a verifiable paper ballot system, which has long been central to the Green Party’s democracy platform.
Stein campaign manager David Cobb, who led the recounts in Ohio and New Mexico after he ran as the 2004 Green Party presidential candidate said the recount’s purpose is “ensuring confidence in the integrity of the voting system.” He laid out the Green Party’s election reform proposals: “A system where we count every vote, and where every vote counts. Every vote to be cast on a paper ballot. All software must be non-proprietary and open-source. Robust audits. State funded recounts in any election decided by .5 percent or less of all votes cast. And nonpartisan election administration.”
Bob Fitrakis is a professor of political science and founder and editor of the Columbus Free Press. He has been writing books about election fraud since 2004. For the complete story with the details of what occurred in each state, go to greenpapers.net.