Clinton campaign joins recount efforts, starting in Wisconsin
Hillary Cinton’s campaign on Saturday announced that it would participate in a Wisconsin recount initiated by Green Party nominee Jill Stein in Wisconsin.
The campaign also said it would participate in recounts initiated by Green in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
For days, activists had been pressuring Clinton to join the effort, in part because she won the popular vote by a significant margin of at least 2 million votes more than Republican vote. Also at issue is whether Russian government hackers had tampered with electronic voting equipment.
The Clinton campaign’s announcement came just a day after the Wisconsin Elections Commission accepted a request from Stein for a recount in the state.
Stein’s campaign has raised more than $4.5 million online to cover the costs of recounts in all three swing states that Clinton lost by razor-thin margins.
“The commission is preparing to move forward with a statewide recount of votes for president of the United States, as requested by these candidates,” WEC Administrator Michael Haas announced.
He continued, “We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
“We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating.”
The last statewide recount was of the Supreme Court election in 2011.
The state is working under a federal deadline of Dec. 13 to complete the recount.
As a result, county boards of canvassers may need to work evenings and weekends to meet the deadlines, according to a news release from the department.
Haas said, “The recount process is very detail-oriented, and this deadline will certainly challenge some counties to finish on time.”
A recount is different than an audit and is more rigorous.
More than 100 reporting units across the state were randomly selected for a separate audit of their voting equipment as required by state law, and that process has already begun.
Electronic voting equipment audits determine whether all properly-marked ballots are accurately tabulated by the equipment.
In a recount, all ballots — including those that were originally hand counted — are examined to determine voter intent before being retabulated.
In addition, the county boards of canvassers will examine other documents, including poll lists, written absentee applications, rejected absentee ballots, and provisional ballots before counting the votes.
Haas said the commission’s role is to order the recount, to provide legal guidance to the counties during the recount and to certify the results.
If the candidates disagree with the results of the recount, the law gives them the right to appeal in circuit court within five business days after the recount is completed.
The circuit court is where issues are resolved that may be discovered during the recount but are not resolved to the satisfaction of the candidates.
“Wisconsin has the most decentralized election system in the United States,” Haas said in his statement.
The Clinton campaign has yet to issue a statement on the recounts. Klein’s website said the recount 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,” according to the website.
Pollster Nate Silver and other experts don’t expect the recounts to change the results of the election.
Throughout the last weeks of the election, hackers — believed by experts to have been Russians — hacked the email of John Podesta and broadcast damning messages from inside the Clinton campaign on a daily basis. Mainstream media picked up the stories, which were never verified.
A complicated Russian-backed system exploiting social media also spread damaging lies about Clinton. The false stories were sometimes published by major news outlets.
Russia tried to influence the outcome of an election in Ukraine, and activists fear that the country might have infiltrated computerized U.S. voting machines and thrown the results. In addition to Wisconsin, Stein is asking for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where results were extremely close and at odds with the vast majority of polls just prior to Election Day.
Under current law, election officials in most states don’t have systems for checking whether results were changed using malware.
Wisconsin law calls for the state to perform a recount at a candidate’s request as long as he or she can pay for it. The state has never performed a presidential recount. Election officials estimate the effort will cost up to $1 million.
Editor’s note: This story will be updated.