This week, many Americans settled back into busy schedules after our Thanksgiving holiday, which was delightfully absent of political arguments for me. Abundant in political conversations, but not in fights. I was thankful for that. As my family and I stuffed our faces, the political drama of 2016 continued onward. Plot twist: some of those Green Party types actually received some decent airtime.
Last week, multiple election lawyers and computer scientists urged a recount after anomalies indicated possible technological problems—or voter fraud and tampering—with voting machines. In response, Jill Stein started a fundraiser on Wednesday to raise enough money to recount the votes narrowly won by Donald Trump in Wisconsin. Contributors helped exceed the original goal for just Wisconsin, so Stein plans to file for a recount in Michigan by the Wednesday deadline. She filed a lawsuit for a recount in Pennsylvania on Monday.*
No evidence of voting fraud in Michigan or Pennsylvania has been discovered. Based on reports I read, Wisconsin is a little dicey.
Now, cue the media backlash! You didn’t expect Fox New to encourage this, did you? Some call this recount liberal hypocrisy (I really have no idea why. Did Trump not criticize the system for being rigged?) Some call it a ploy by the Green Party to actually get some attention. I wouldn’t put it past them, but there is a chance they actually do care about the integrity of our voting system. Finally, my personal favorite: Many people, both ordinary citizens and the media, say these efforts are time and money down the drain. It won’t change the results and it’s money that could have been spent elsewhere, like feeding the poor. This may be the most accurate criticism, because it’s half true. In the end, Trump will likely still be our president. Is it not possible, though, to support a recount while simultaneously accepting an inevitable Trump Presidency? Also, can we not feed the hungry and fund a recount? We can multitask, America. I believe in you!
This is not just me, a disgruntled, poor sport liberal, clinging to my false hopes to the bitter end. It is something more serious, something I think all Americans should care about. This is about voter fraud and national security.
I get why conservatives do not like the recount. If the tables turned, and Trump wanted his recount, that paranoid voice in the back of my head would have whispered, “What is he up to?” If Hillary won and Trump called for a recount, I’ll admit my head would have hurt from rolling my eyes so hard. BUT, and this is the part I really mean, I also would have said, “Good, let him do it.” One, because I am smug and would have liked to see him lose twice, but mostly because I have been questioning the integrity of this voting system, and the possibility of voting fraud, since the primaries began.
Note: I also had a larger concern about voter suppression; I bring this up because I think the issue of potential voter fraud can take the focus away from folks turned away from polls because of overly strict identification laws, like what happened in Wisconsin, or people being unlawfully turned away from polls, like students in Boca Raton, Florida, because their school ID address was considered a hotel and not a place of residence. There were also instances in Arizona where visibly armed individuals stood near the exits of polling places, possibly scaring away voters.** Voter fraud and suppression are two different things, and the latter is worthy of your attention. But, voting fraud is also something that needs to be addressed. We need to rule out irregularities such as padding votes, faulty machines, and the possibility that they are being hacked. In Wisconsin, there have been reports of four precincts where more votes were counted than there were actual voters. These numbers have been revised, but it still raises red flags.
Enter Russia: Stein, citing the hack of Democratic National Convention e-mails, stressed her concerns that voting machines have been tampered with through cyber attacks from foreign countries. Computer scientists have researched this problem, and have evidence that this technology opens us up to a serious National Security issue. As the affidavit from leading computer scientist Alex Halderman states, Russia has sophisticated cyber offensive capabilities. Evidence exists that these capabilities were used to sabotage the vote counting infrastructure in Ukraine’s 2014 elections, and our own voting machines in the United States have, “Serious cyber security problems.”***
In October, Homeland Security published a statement expressing the possibility that some US organizations’ systems had been breached by Russian based hackers, and were intended to interfere with the election.**** If there is a possibility that Russia, or other countries with these abilities, can sway our presidential elections, shouldn’t all of us, liberals and conservatives, be concerned about that?
I don’t know for sure what her angle is here; we haven’t received enough character development from Stein in this political saga that is the 2016 election. I support her efforts because I care that, as an American voter, I can rely on casting my vote for a candidate, and that vote actually gets counted. Clinton haters, I know you’re thinking it, “Well after all those e-mails, do we really think Hillary Clinton is going to be better for cyber security?” Probably not, but that’s not my point at all. My point is if this is happening, we need to figure it out now and nip it in the bud. This not about keeping Trump from the Oval Office. I would love that outcome (Dramaaaa!), but like I said, a change in the election outcome is extremely unlikely. This is about integrity. Americans need to know: is the system really rigged? Is our national security on the line? Are election officials doing their job? Spoiler: in the end, there will likely be no discrepancies. The Wisconsin Elections Commission released a report on Monday stating there is no evidence of hacking in their machines, yet data experts contradict this notion. That is why I don’t consider these efforts a waste of time or money. The only way to know it isn’t happening is if we count those votes by hand to make sure the results from the machines line up.
I don’t know how this episode will end, but having piece of mind in our voting system is a good cause. It is a worthy enough for Americans to know election officials are actually taking elections seriously, that they are ensuring our votes are being counted properly. If you think the money raised by the Green Party should have gone towards something better than a recount, how about you give to a food bank instead, and share it on Twitter or Facebook to encourage others to do so, too. Like Stein did for a recount. Here’s a link to get you started. Thank you for helping make a difference. http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/
Cover image property of: Huffington Post.
*Pennsylvania is more complicated, and quite an obstacle, with the deadline having already passed. PA requires voters from each precinct to participate in a recount. Learn more here http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jill-steins-pennsylvania-recount-efforts-what-you-need-to-know/
**This article gives information on instances of reported voter suppression on Election Day. It also calls voter fraud a myth and a distraction. Again, we can multitask, people. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-clarke/stop-perpetuating-myth-of_b_13273788.html
***If you would like to read more from this affidavit, and more of Halderman’s research, here is the link http://elections.wi.gov/sites/default/files/news/wisconsin_recount_petition_of_jill_stein_00268242_12391.pdf
**** You can read the statement from Homeland Security here: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/10/07/joint-statement-department-homeland-security-and-office-director-national.