MADISON, Wis. — Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein announced a fundraising effort Wednesday in hopes of requesting recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Why Stein? Wisconsin statutes permit any ballot candidate to request a recount regardless of the margin, according to the state's elections website.
As liberals raised fears of hacked voting machines, Wisconsin officials said they were unaware of any problems with the vote tally.
A lawyer with Stein's campaign told Wisconsin officials she would be formally requesting a recount by Friday's deadline, said Michael Haas, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The commission took the notification seriously enough to tell municipal clerks to estimate their costs.
"We're proceeding as if it's going to happen," Haas said late Wednesday.
A notice posted on the website apologized to clerks for the timing: "We know that this is not the type of news that you want to hear immediately before a holiday and after a very labor intensive fall election season," the announcement read.
The cost of the recount just in Wisconson could approach $1 million with Pennsylvania and Michigan costing another combined $1 million. Stein's campaign will have to bear that cost, Haas said. A page was set up on the party's website to collect funds. As of midnight, more than $2.1 million had been raised, with a stated goal of collecting $2.5 million.
The push for a recount comes as some question Republican Donald Trump’s wins in those key states. But election experts noted the voting patterns in the states were similar to the ones in other Midwestern states such as Iowa and Ohio.
“Most all of the stuff we’re seeing on Twitter and other sites questioning the results is based on unofficial results which contain some errors that have been corrected by the county boards of canvass,” Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said by email.
New York magazine reported Tuesday that a group of election lawyers and computer scientists was urging top campaign officials to seek a recount. But one of those involved in the conversations, J. Alex Halderman, wrote Wednesday on Medium.com that he believes there should be a review of paper ballots and voting equipment but did not think there had been a cyberattack.
“I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked,” he wrote.
The New York article contended Clinton received 7% fewer votes in counties with electronic voting compared to those with paper ballots. But the types of voting machines used in Wisconsin vary by municipality, not county.
Touch-screen voting accounts for a small portion of the votes cast in Wisconsin. The machines have a paper trail that can be audited.
In the 2016 April presidential primary, 10.7% of the roughly 2.1 million ballots cast were cast on touch-screen machines.
These machines are scattered across roughly 50 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, but they represent only a portion of the vote in each of those counties because voting systems vary by municipalities within counties.
In some smaller counties, touch-screen voting accounts for a majority of the vote, while in others it represents a small portion of the vote. So any analysis that seeks to tie countywide voting patterns to the voting systems used is problematic because of the lack of uniformity in voting machines within counties.
Touch-screen voting is also disproportionately found in small counties and rural communities, which happen to be the kind of places — in Wisconsin and elsewhere — where Democrats saw the biggest erosion of support in this presidential race.
There is hardly any touch-screen voting in the state’s most densely populated counties and communities, which are the kinds of places where Democrats suffered less or no erosion of support in this election.
Contributing: Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Patrick Marley and Craig Gilbert on Twitter: @patrickdmarley and @wisvoter
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel