#Recount2016: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of Recount 2016?

Recount 2016 is the first-ever attempt to demand recounts in multiple states following a presidential election.

In a year when millions of Americans have questioned the integrity of politicians and the electoral system, Jill Stein is fulfilling a need to investigate our voting system.

Why do recounts matter?

Well, here's the impact of the 2004 recount:

The 2004 Green Party presidential campaign of David Cobb and Pat LaMarche led investigations and demanded recounts in Ohio and New Mexico in the wake of widespread complaints about disqualification and obstruction of legitimate voters. The complaints came mostly from majority-black precincts and college campuses, and included allegations of tampering with computer voting machines on Election Day.

Democrats, led by nominee John Kerry, were silent in response to these complaints. A notable exception was U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who held hearings on the Ohio election theft and published "What Went Wrong in Ohio." A few local Democrats in Ohio spoke up, but the Green Party ultimately led the charge. Cobb was joined by Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik, although Greens did most of the recount work. Greens raised the money to file the initial recount and litigated all the issues in court. Democrats and the major media have swept most of this under the rug—especially the role of the Green Party. Greens stood up for clean elections in 2004 and exposed GOP irregularities, while Democrats (who should have learned something from 2000) looked the other way.

Here are additional concrete, tangible results of the 2004 recount efforts:

  1. The investigation uncovered evidence that led to the conviction of two Republican operatives in Cuyahoga County, greater caution in many states regarding computer voting and the decision in some states not to use Diebold machines in future elections.
  2. It helped to accelerate the growth of the "Election Integrity" movement, which is largely responsible for the halt of the proliferation of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines (which is renowned for "Black Box Voting").
  3. The recount helped to provoke a "top to bottom" review of the California voting systems by then-Secretary of State Debra Bowen. This led to DREs being outlawed in that state.
  4. New Mexico Green Rick Lass helped organize a citizens' lobbying effort that culminated in that state revamping its voting system: They eliminated all DREs and went to a full paper-ballot system. They instituted mandatory audits. They instituted state-funded recounts in any state races where the reported margin of victory is 0.5% or less.
  5. A group of citizens from Minnesota participated as election observers in the Ohio recount, and were so appalled by their experience that they created Citizens for Election Integrity, a nonpartisan organization advocating for verifiable, transparent and accurate elections across the country. Their searchable database of recount/audit laws is the premiere source of information for anyone attempting to understand this complicated legal landscape.

Who initiated the recount?

Jill Stein initiated the recount, and has led the subsequent fundraising and logistics management as the plaintiff. Though Jill Stein was a Green Party presidential candidate, the party did not endorse the recount initiative. Her 2016 vice presidential running mate, Ajamu Baraka, is not a plaintiff.

How much have you raised so far?

As of 10 a.m. Eastern Time, on Tuesday, december 13, the Stein Recount had received more than $7.35 million in mainly small-dollar donations from more than 161,000 contributors with an average donation of $45.

Are you cooperating with Hillary Clinton?

We are not "working with" Hillary Clinton's campaign in any way. Our lawyers have made courtesy calls to lawyers representing the Clinton, Johnson and Trump campaigns to determine their position on election integrity in general, and on these recounts specifically.

Greens have been behind electoral reform efforts for years, including the 2004 Ohio recount that sent two election officials to jail and prompted California to ditch hackable DRE voting machines.

Where are you recounting votes?

Recounts have been initiated in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Who is recounting votes and who is in charge of that?

County election officials and their staff recount ballots. We are recruiting volunteers to observe the process. You can sign up to volunteer through these links:

The recount process will be overseen by independent recount observers. We are hiring experienced lawyers to ensure the legality of our operations, and our staff is working around the clock to make sure we finish the recount before each state's deadline. 

Why does it cost so much?

The cost is a function of state laws.The bulk of the money raised went toward state filing fees, while a portion went toward legal and expert fees and the cost of recount observers in each state.

Here is a breakdown of state filing fees:

SPENDING CATEGORY COST  
PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL
State filing fees:   $4,488,939  60%
  • Wisconsin:          $3,499,689
  • Michigan:            $973,250
  • Pennsylvania:      $16,000*
   
Legal expenses for recount: $1,630,200 22%
Legal expenses for ongoing litigation: $150,000   2%
Payments to recount observers & volunteer costs: $86,214 1%
Staff payroll:   $212,500 3%
Consultants:
(E.g. election experts, communications support)
$364,000  5%
Administrative expenses:
(E.g. office and travel costs and donation processing fees)
$353,618 5%
Compliance costs: $150,000 2%

*Note: the Stein campaign's initial fundraising target for PA was $500,000, which covered requisite filing fees and associated notary costs. The actual number, however, was lowered due to Pennsylvania’s bottom-up process, which required 27,000 voters in 9,000-plus precincts to submit official, notarized petitions to county boards, in time for shifting, divergent and secret deadlines known, in order to start a statewide recount.

 

How is the recount going to work in Pennsylvania?

We are supporting a voter-initiated recount in Pennsylvania, in election districts where at least three voters in each precinct file affidavits with their County Board of Elections within the specified time frame. 

Why are you really doing this?

Despite the many rumors swirling on the Internet, Jill Stein genuinely believes in the power of grassroots democracy. Independently funded candidates like Jill Stein cannot stand a chance if our electoral system is rigged in favor of establishment, corporate-funded candidates. The evidence so far shows it is easy to hack many voting machines being used in elections.

In Michigan, 87,810 voters cast a ballot, but did not cast a vote for president. That compares to 49,840 no-votes for president in 2012. The high number begs investigation.

The DRE voting machines used in Wisconsin were banned in California after discovering their vulnerability to hacking and malicious programming because of inadequate security features.

Aside from conducting a recount, we advocate Ranked Choice Voting and federal campaign financing, just a few solutions put forth by the Green Party in its six-point plan for grassroots democracy. The Green Party Platform calls for "publicly-owned, open source voting equipment and deploy it across the nation to ensure high national standards, performance, transparency and accountability; use verifiable paper ballots; and institute mandatory automatic random precinct recounts to ensure a high level of accuracy in election results."

This is the first-ever attempt to demand recounts in multiple states following a presidential election.

How are donations used?

The money raised for Recount 2016 can only be used for recount purposes. That money sits inside of a separate account created just for the recount initiative. It cannot mingle with the Stein/Baraka campaign's general funds, per the Federal Election Commission's rules. If there is any surplus, we will ask our donors to help decide how to distribute it.

Read budget breakdown.

Do you believe foreign hackers could have affected election results?

Voting system experts and studies of past elections have demonstrated that many of our voting machines are vulnerable to human or machine error, as well as tampering, hacking, and other potential malfeasance.

We want to clarify that our campaign has never sanctioned or supported the Democratic Party line that blamed incidents of hacking into state and Democratic Party databases on the Russians. In fact, throughout the campaign we condemned Russia-baiting by the Democrats as part of their reckless desire to enter into a dangerous conflict with Russia.  

For the purpose of the recount, it doesn’t matter where the hacks originated. The point is that our voting system is vulnerable to malfeasance - whether it came from abroad or from a basement in Peoria. We have to get rid of tamper-prone electronic voting machines and work towards a verifiable paper ballot system, which is in line with the Green Party’s democracy reform platform.

In fact, what we have been able to uncover through the recounts so far is much more indicative of a domestic problem of everyday voter suppression and disenfranchisement of poor voters and voters of color as a result of the systemic neglect in these communities. For example, Michigan’s results included over 75,000 “under-votes” - ballots that were filled out except the vote for President - many of which were concentrated in Wayne and Oakland counties, in urban areas with large minority populations. A whopping 87 machines in Detroit alone malfunctioned on Election Day, rendering many of the precincts unable to be recounted due to a bizarre state law that prohibits recounts where there is a mismatch between the number of ballots and the voter rolls - discrepancies which indicate the need for a recount in the first place! As a result, many votes, especially those in poor communities and communities of color, may have simply gone uncounted.

While pursuing hand recounts could have gotten to the bottom of the issue and helped fix these widespread problems, Donald Trump and his GOP cronies in the state establishment have done everything they can to block this common-sense democratic process from going forward. We don’t have to go all the way to Russia to find out who’s responsible for a rigged system. We can pressure our own local and state officials - or replace them - to make sure we have an election system that we can trust; that is fair, secure, and just!

How will this help the country?

Healing the country is exactly what Jill Stein is going for. As Jill often says, she's practicing political medicine because "politics is the mother of all illnesses." Yet, we cannot heal if we don't know where we're broken. The Stein Recount aims to kickstart a national conversation around the integrity our electoral system and our democracy.

Isn't an audit more thorough than a recount?

Each state's laws dictate how we are able to investigate the integrity of the voting system. We will use every mechanism available to us. Plus, this kind of effort has positive consequences. A national nonpartisan watchdog group, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, formed after Green Party 2004 presidential candidate David Cobb (the Stein/Baraka campaign manager who is managing the recount for Jill Stein) demanded a recount in Ohio that sent two election officials to jail and prompted California to ditch hackable DRE voting machines.

Why did the cost of Recount 2016 increase?

On November 28, the state of Wisconsin announced the final estimate for the recount filing fee is $3.5 million—an outrageous cost increase from the initial estimate of $1.1 million state elections officials gave us based on the last statewide recount. Thanks to over 161,000 small-dollar donors like you, we had enough money in hand to pay this fee and move forward with the recount.
We stand by our commitment to verify that the vote in Wisconsin was accurate and secure, and this exorbitant cost did not deter us. We are committed to ensuring that a secure vote should not come at such an unconscionable cost. As citizens in a democracy, it should be our right.

Can a wealthy person donate the whole amount you need?

Frankly, we're proud of our grassroots roots and our small-dollar donors. As of November 28, we were grateful to have received about 144,000 contributions at an average amount of $48. By the time we wrapped up our fundraising efforts, over 161,000 donors had donated an average of $45 each.

The Federal Election Commission's rules on campaign contributions still apply here. An individual is permitted to donate up to $2,700 to fund this recount initiative.

Why don't you use a crowdfunding site that lets people get their money back?

As a campaign, we're beholden to the rules of the Federal Election Commission. It does not allow campaigns to use crowdsourced funds.

How will you use surplus funds?

If we raise more than what's needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform.

As Jill said in a recent Cosmopolitan magazine Q&A:

"...Money is all raised and deposited into a dedicated and segregated account. The donor list, by the way, will be made public by the Federal Election Commission and that will happen this week. The rules for donations are basically the same rules that we used to fundraise with as a political campaign: that is a maximum donation of $2,700. However, we know that the average donation is approximately $47 or $48 and that there have been over 150,000 donors."

"...what we would be actually very excited about doing is having every contributor vote on a set of options for exactly how that money would be spent so that it could be a participatory democratic process whereby the donors decide and we would use a voting system that we think should be used all the time—you rank your choices and that way we could come up with one or more options for exactly who those funds will be spent according to the wishes of the donors."

Please read a more complete description of the participatory, ranked choice voting process here.

Why isn't the campaign doing a recount in any other state besides Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

Election integrity experts have independently identified Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as states where "statistical anomalies" raised concerns. The anomalies are based on the presence of razor-thin margins, hackable and error-prone touch-screen machines, and a discrepancy between exit polls and election results.

We would do recounts in other states, but many filing deadlines have already passed. Recounts in states where deadlines have not passed would be considered if funds are available. 

Conducting research on state deadlines and requirements for filing is difficult work. That's why we'd appreciate your support in finding accurate data. You can start at the Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota.

Why are you only doing recounts in states Clinton lost/Trump won?

As we said in the previous answer, election integrity experts have independently identified Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as states where "statistical anomalies" raised concerns. The anomalies are based on the presence of razor-thin margins, hackable and error-prone touch-screen machines, and a discrepancy between exit polls and election results.

We would do recounts in other states, but many filing deadlines have already passed. Recounts in states where deadlines have not passed would be considered if funds are available.

Please note: When we started our recount efforts, the results in Michigan had not yet been certified, so those Electoral College votes had not yet been allocated to any candidate. 

Conducting research on state deadlines and requirements for filing is difficult work. That's why we'd appreciate your support in finding accurate data. You can start at the Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota.

This is the first-ever attempt to demand recounts in multiple states following a presidential election.

Can you recount votes in Nevada, Oklahoma or South Dakota?

The Stein/Baraka campaign was not on the ballot in those states, so Jill Stein cannot file paperwork to recount votes.

If you are granted a recount, does it only recount your votes or votes for all candidates on the ballot for each state?

The purpose of a recount is to ensure accurate vote counts for all candidates in the race the recount is being requested for—in this case, all candidates for President.

Please include provisional ballots and Crosscheck voter purge in your recount efforts.

The Stein Recount will use as many mechanisms available to us in each state to ensure the integrity of the vote results. We care about grassroots democracy—that includes counting all ballots (whether they be absentee or provisional) and working against voter suppression tactics like Interstate Crosscheck. Read our recent statements on: