Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is pushing for vote recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, three traditionally Democratic states where Donald Trump did much better than expected on Nov. 8. And donors pitched in to fund them, surpassing a $2 million goal in just hours.
Trump pulled off historic upsets that night in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Michigan has yet to be called, but he is projected to win there as well.
Stein’s press director made the announcement in a Facebook livestream on Wednesday afternoon, and donations for the effort surged into a fundraising site, topping its $2 million goal by late Wednesday. Stein’s campaign had called on supporters to provide $2 million by Friday afternoon to start the process in Wisconsin. Its statement references “compelling evidence of voting anomalies” and “significant discrepancies in vote totals” in the three states.
The news comes days ahead of the states’ deadlines to file recount requests. Wisconsin’s deadline is Friday; Pennsylvania’s is Monday and Michigan’s is Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Wisconsin is already preparing for a recount based on the Stein campaign’s statements, Michael Haas, state Elections Commission director, told the Wisconsin State Journal. He added that officials know of no evidence the state’s election results were manipulated.
Stein’s call follows a Tuesday night report in New York magazine saying a group of election lawyers and computer scientists have contacted Hillary Clinton’s team to advocate for a recount of the votes in those states.
J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan professor in that group, explained his reasoning in a Wednesday post on Medium:
I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls [showing Clinton winning those three states] were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don’t believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other. The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence — paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts.
As one of the presidential candidates on the ballot across the nation, Stein is one of the few people able to put the process of examining evidence in motion.
Trump has little incentive to challenge a result that handed him the presidency, and it would be politically difficult for Clinton to do so because of her repeated demand that Trump accept the results of the election and because of reported pressure from the Obama administration to avoid complicating the transition. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, has not expressed an interest in a recount.
Stein’s move is likely to be embraced by some of Clinton’s most loyal supporters, who have been cheering talk of recounts and other ways to change the outcome, including convincing Electoral College members to refuse to vote Trump, even if their state did. They note that Clinton has a lead in the popular vote of more than 2 million. That number is expected to increase as counting continues; 2 million votes remain to be counted in California alone.
It’s an unlikely coalition, given Stein’s persistent criticisms of Clinton, the many problems with her movement and the Clinton camp’s anger for supposedly pulling away votes they felt might have gone to the Democratic nominee.
Stein won tens of thousands of votes in states that went to Trump ― including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Still, the Republican nominee would likely have won even if all of Stein’s votes had gone to Clinton. The Green Party candidate ended up with about 1 percent of the national vote.
Stein has continued to critique Clinton following the election. But she’s no fan of the president-elect either, saying in recent days that he is wrong to overstate his role in the battle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and calling for Americans to combat trends that enabled his rise.
According to a Clinton aide, they are not yet commenting publicly on the deliberations around the recount.
If you think Clinton should push forward with it, or you think she should let it rest, we’ve put together two different petitions. You can tell her how you feel below. The top one calls for her to go for it, the bottom one asks her to move on and accept that it’s over.
Ryan Grim contributed reporting.
This article has been updated with Wednesday night’s fundraising for a recount.