What does democracy look like? On Wednesday, a rubber thumb. As a controversial recount of Michigan’s presidential election entered its third day, the rubber thumb — kind of like the finger part of a rubber glove, but with nubs — was in high demand at Detroit’s Cobo Center. Recount workers lucky enough to claim one of those humble accessories could page quickly through stacks of ballots, hastening the painstaking rounds of counting and sorting needed to recount an election. First challenge: Determine whether any given bundle of ballots is recountable. That means counting some ballot boxes, each containing hundreds of the paper slips, two and three times before even beginning to determine for whom each ballot was cast, all under the patient eyes of volunteer observers from three presidential campaigns. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein lost by an insurmountable 2 million votes, but asked for the recount because, she says, she’s concerned about the integrity of Michigan elections. She’s not the only one — University of Michigan computer scientist Alex Halderman has identified vulnerabilities in the system that it’s not currently designed to ward off, and President-elect Donald Trump himself has claimed that millions of illegal votes were cast in the election he won. A federal judge halted Michigan’s presidential recount late Wednesday night, but an appeal is expected.
Attorneys for Trump and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette have seized on Stein’s wide margin, arguing that because Stein lost so badly, and because the recount will exceed the per-precinct cost state law requires Stein to pay, it’s a waste of taxpayer cash. And they’re not wrong. A recount is unlikely to overturn the results of the election in favor of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who lost the state by about 10,000 votes, much less for Stein.
To stop the recount prematurely leaves Michiganders in limbo — in three days, the recount revealed imperfections in the voting system beyond the concerns that saw it launched.
Let’s start with Detroit’s ballot boxes, two-thirds of which were initially deemed unrecountable under state law because ballot-box seals were broken or the number of voters logged in the pollbook don’t jibe with the tally on the seal closing the ballot box. Most such discrepancies, election observers say, are caused by some combination of a large voting jurisdiction, human error and mechanical failure, the result of aging optical reader tabulators and a two-page ballot more likely to jam such machines. Voters in unrecountable precincts aren’t disenfranchised; for those precincts, the election-night vote count stands. But some number of those precincts were expected to become viable as the recount progressed. If the tabulator’s tally, for example, and the pollbook match the number of ballots in the box, they’re recountable.
Full Article: Recount: what democracy looks like.