For Immediate Release - December 2, 2016
Trump Scared, Trying to Block Recount
Stein Campaign Escalates Fight to Ensure All Votes Are Counted
Vote Count in Pennsylvania Halved to 40,000; Trump’s Lawyers Fan State to Suppress Recount
New YouGov.com Poll Shows Support for Stein’s Recount; Majority of Americans Think Trump Would Do the Same Were Roles Reversed
(December 2, 2016) – As Donald’s Trump’s margin from the election in Pennsylvania dropped significantly, the President-elect and his allies in the Republican Party sought to block the recount in all three states, a move that would suppress efforts by voters to ensure their votes were counted accurately and fairly in the November 8 election. In response, Dr. Stein announced a press conference for 10 a.m. Monday morning at Trump Tower in Manhattan, vowing to fight tooth and nail to ensure a recount that will clarify for all Americans whether the election was accurate and secure.
Donald Trump’s objection to a hand recount of nearly 4.8 million votes in Michigan, which the Trump campaign submitted yesterday, is the latest in a series of efforts to block three states from verifying the accuracy and integrity of their elections. As the recount hangs over Trump, he has embarked on a so-called “victory tour.” Yet his campaign team is aggressively working to obstruct and weaken recounts demanded by voters in:
- Pennsylvania, where late Thursday evening, just hours after his vote lead fell from more than 70,000 to 46,435, Trump moved to block the vote recount, claiming that it “puts Pennsylvania at grave risk”;
- Wisconsin, where Trump allies in the State Republican Party logged a complaint with the FEC, arguing for the full recount to be thrown out; and Trump’s Super PAC and others filed a federal lawsuit against the Wisconsin Election Commission to enjoin the recount;
- Michigan, where Trump lawyers filed an objection with the Board of State Canvassers to block Michigan’s recount, and the state’sAttorney General similarly moved Friday to halt the recount.
“We won’t stand down as Donald Trump and his allies seek to frivolously obstruct the legal processes set up to ensure the accuracy, security and fairness of our elections. By putting party politics above country, Trump is needlessly delaying what should be a routine verification of the democratic process,” said Dr. Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party candidate for president, whose campaign has initiated the nation’s first-ever multi-state presidential recount. “In an election already tainted by suspicion, previously expressed by Donald Trump himself, verifying the vote is a common-sense procedure that would address concerns around voter disenfranchisement. Trump’s desperate attempts to silence voter demands raise a simple question: why is Donald Trump afraid of these recounts?"
Even members of Donald Trump’s own party do not support his attempts to stop the recounts, with 60% of Republicans saying that they think recounts would help convince people Trump really won, according to a YouGov.com poll released Thursday. The majority of Americans (62%), including a plurality of Trump voters, believe that if the shoe were on the other foot, and Trump won the popular vote but not the Electoral College, he would be pursuing recounts just like Dr. Stein.
“In Michigan alone there were an astounding 75,335 ‘under-votes,’ or ballots that were filled out except the vote for President—doubling the number from 2012. A significant proportion of these were found in Wayne and Oakland Counties, which includes Detroit. This exceeds by several-fold Trump's margin of victory in the state, and serves as a red flag that communities of color may have been systematically disenfranchised in an unreliable counting of the vote,” added Dr. Stein. “After an election that raised so many questions about unreliable machines, irregularities and potential hacking, we need to rebuild trust in our voting system. Doing that starts with a full, accurate hand recount and a forensic analysis of the electronic voting machines.”
The Stein recount campaign has been fueled by an outpouring of grassroots supporters across the nation, many who are questioning the integrity of an election tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines, voting irregularities and concerns over hacking. In just a week, nearly 150,000 individuals across political parties have donated $6.8 million to demand recounts. And as supporters have spoken out, an increasing number of election and security experts have raised concerns over the accuracy, security and integrity of the election.
Irregularities & Inconsistencies
There is significant evidence of outside interference during the 2016 presidential campaign. Sophisticated hackers targeted the voter registration systems of 20 states and got into at least two, Illinois and Arizona. State elections offices’ databases were targeted. Moreover, there are a number of statistical irregularities in voting data, which merit heightened scrutiny given the historic level of concern over hacking during this election:
- Wisconsin: Three counties saw large discrepancies in votes between 2012 and 2016, with the margin of victory for Donald Trump in some cases being ten-fold higher than the GOP’s average in the last four presidential elections.
- Wisconsin: Another statistical analysis, done by Stanford PhD candidate Rodolfo Barragan and Axel Geijsel of Tilburg University, finds that even when taking into account factors like ethnicity and education, there is significant evidence that counties with electronic voting showed higher support for Trump than counties using only paper ballots.
- Michigan: More than 75,000 Michiganders cast no vote for president in the 2016 election—almost twice as many “under-votes” than were cast in the 2012 election (49,840). The high number is a red flag, especially when considering that these “under-votes” were concentrated in the heavily Democratic precincts of Detroit.
“My analysis [in Wisconsin], which relies on using election forensics techniques designed to identify electoral fraud, reveals some reasons to be suspicious about vote patterns,” wrote Walter R. Mebane, Jr., a professor of political science and statistics at the University of Michigan, wrote in the Washington Post this week. “A rigorous audit or a full recount that has humans manually checking the paper ballots can provide convincing evidence about who won the election.”
Issues with Voting Machines & Machine Recounts
In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, approximately two-thirds and one-tenth of voting, respectively, is done through touch-screen machines (DREs) that are susceptible to manipulation and hacking (and which many states have banned or are phasing out). In Pennsylvania, whose voting system has been called a “nightmare scenario” by one leading expert, the machines do not even dispense a paper ballot or receipt. As a result, the only way to conduct a full, foolproof audit is through a “forensic analysis” – opening each machine to look for evidence of tampering or voter manipulation.
Optical scan voting – the method for all voting in Michigan, 85 percent in Wisconsin and one-third in Pennsylvania – is considered an improvement over DREs, but can still be breached without detection. The machines suffer from glitches and are prone to mistakes, including misreading voters’ markings. For example, in a recount of Ohio votes initiated by then Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb in 2004, almost 90,000 votes were left uncounted due to a machine calibration error. As such, manual hand recounts – as opposed to simply running ballots back through the machine – are essential, and considered the gold standard of recounts by election integrity experts.
“America's voting machines and optical scanners are prone to errors and susceptible to outside manipulation,” said J. Alex Halderman, one of the nation’s leading cyber security experts and a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Michigan. “That's precisely why we need this recount – to examine the physical evidence, to look under the hood. A recount is the best way, and indeed the only way in 2016, to ensure public confidence that the results are accurate, authentic, and untainted by outside interference.”
Trump’s Obstruction in the States
Trump and members of his party are doing everything in their power to undermine the hand recount in Michigan. The Republican Secretary of State and several county clerks have taken steps to increase the costs of the recount, despite the Stein campaign paying the full $973,250 fee required under Michigan law. In an effort to undermine public support for the recount, the Michigan Republican Party has claimed that it could cost as much or more than the election itself – assertions refuted by the Board of State Canvassers, the only state entity with accurate estimates of the total costs.
On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers submitted an objection with election officials to reject a recount that was set to begin Friday, arguing that a recount could, “risk having the Electoral College door knocked off its hinges.” Despite the Trump campaign repeatedly labeling the recount a “waste of money,” Trump’s own legal objection adds confusion and costs to the process, potentially delaying the start of the recount up to five days and pushing increasing costs onto taxpayers. Dr. Stein’s request for a recount, on the other hand, was immediately authorized by the state’s bipartisan election board after she filed Wednesday.
Friday morning, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joined Trump’s efforts and moved to entirely halt the presidential recount. While the AG claims he’s not working with Trump, his brief has large sections essentially lifted from Trump’s objections that were filed yesterday. The Board of State Canvassers and the Director of Elections have all expressed their willingness and readiness to go forward with the recount. On Friday, the Board deadlocked 2-2, along party lines, over Trump’s objection, meaning it failed. A hand recount could begin late Tuesday or early Wednesday, notwithstanding Attorney General Schuette’s federal court challenge.
The recount in Wisconsin began on Thursday, after Trump called the process “ridiculous” and a “scam.” After the Stein campaign filed a case in Dane County on November 28 arguing that the recount be done exclusively by hand, Republicans fought back and demanded that the decision be left to each of the state’s 72 counties. The Judge sided with Republicans, even while urging counties to conduct recounts by hand, calling it the “gold standard.” In total, 47 counties are conducting their recounts solely by hand—16 more than had confirmed a hand recount prior to the hearing.
With few avenues remaining in the state to try to suppress the vote count, Republicans turned to the federal government, filing a FEC complaint alleging that the Stein and Clinton campaigns were illegally coordinating. The total $3.5 million cost of the recount in Wisconsin, however, has been paid in full by the Stein campaign, wholly independent of others. Stein’s campaign manager David Cobb called the complaint, “nothing but a PR stunt to push a false narrative that will ultimately have no impact on the recount in Wisconsin.”
Late Thursday, Donald Trump’s Super PAC and others supporting him filed a federal lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission trying to stop Wisconsin's ongoing election recount. The lawsuit and request for a temporary restraining order was filed in federal court in Madison by the Great America PAC, the Stop Hillary PAC and Wisconsin voter Ronald R. Johnson.
Pennsylvania has the messiest recount process of the three states, and Donald Trump has tried to use its decentralized and bureaucratic election system to his advantage. Lawyers for the Republican Party have crisscrossed the state to fight recounts in courthouses from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. In Montgomery County, for example, Republican lawyers alleged that several voters could not file their recount affidavits because they failed to pay a “required” $50 court filing free, in spite of the fact that they had already paid a separate $250 fee. And Trump’s surrogates have argued that it requires 27,000 voters in all the state’s 9,000+ precincts to request a recount, in order for the voters in any single precinct to be recounted.
Thursday evening, news broke that Donald Trump’s lead in the state fell from roughly 70,000 to 40,000, now within 0.2% of triggering an automatic statewide recount. Not long after, the Trump campaign filed a legal objection in state court, claiming that following through with the recount would somehow “put Pennsylvania at grave risk.” With the lawsuit pending, recounts in select counties will continue. In Philadelphia, for example, the Elections Commission approved a recount in 75 precincts in which voters requested one – but the Commission denied a full forensic audit of the voting machines, opting instead to simply run the ballots back through the machines, which will not guarantee the integrity of the vote.
“American voters want a recount – and they deserve a recount,” said Dr. Stein. “After an election that raised so many questions about unreliable machines, irregularities, and potential hacking, we need to rebuild trust in our voting system. Carrying on with these recounts is the first step in doing that.”