Neither Jill Stein nor Hillary Clinton are realistically expecting the outcome of the 2016 presidential election to change if there are statewide recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Instead, Stein is pushing for contentious and exhaustive recount efforts in each state in part to draw attention to the integrity of the nationwide voting system after a campaign season chock-full of foreign interferences, cyberattacks on the Democratic Party and even a purported hack on electronic voting machines. Stein raised nearly $6.3 million in donations toward her goal of filing for recounts in three key battleground states where Trump won by small margins. “After a presidential election tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines and accusations of irregularities and hacks, people of all political persuasions are asking if our election results are reliable,” Stein said in a statement on Monday. “We must recount the votes so we can build trust in our election system.”
The Clinton campaign defended its support for the recount on Medium this week, calling it more a matter of principle than a last-ditch effort to take control of the White House. Marc Elias, the campaign’s general council, noted Clinton’s margin of loss in each state is higher than any recount producing a change in results in history. Still, a change in the vote totals in Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, no matter how slight, would prove voting in a U.S. presidential election is not as secure as it was once believed to be.
Even if the results don’t change, the conversation will. By pushing for recounts in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, where Trump won by less than 1 percent, Stein is hoping voters and politicians alike will take a closer look at the country’s voting system as a whole, from the typical problems states experience in casting and recording ballots, to the possibility Clinton’s election was compromised by international influences. While a recount might not be able to definitively prove electronic voting machines were hacked, the revelation that thousands of votes were submitted incorrectly in either state would shine a light on Stein’s belief that the election process needs serious reform.