By Tina Lu
Democrats across the country are calling for past presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to challenge vote counts in three battleground states—Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Though president-elect Donald Trump won the majority of the Electoral College, Clinton won the popular vote with over a 2-million-vote margin (which doesn’t matter because America still isn’t a true democracy). If the vote recount flips Michigan, Wisconsin, AND Pennsylvania in Clinton’s favor, Clinton would narrowly win the Electoral College count, trumping Trump and becoming America’s president-elect. So, what’s up with the vote recounts? Is Clinton calling for one? And if so, what’s the chance it’ll change the election results?
So far, the Clinton campaign has not announced that she will call for a vote recount. However, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has initiated a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to challenge votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. #GirlsHelpGirls. To date, she has raised over $3 million to fund the recount. To see through the whole process, Stein will need $4 million more, but considering she just launched her campaign a few days ago, we at Project GirlSpire are pretty confident she’ll get that money.
But even if the vote is recounted, will it be enough to turn the votes in favor of Clinton? Well…maybe (but most likely not). Percentage-wise, Clinton seems pretty close in these states, lagging behind Trump just 0.3% in Michigan, 1.2% in Pennsylvania, and 0.7% in Wisconsin. But even these small percentage points amount to tens of thousands of votes.
New York magazine published an article this week declaring that voting-rights lawyer John Bonifaz and Computer Science professor J. Alex Halderman have urged Clinton campaign officials to call for recounts in those three critical states. According to the professionals, electronic-voting machines in these states might have been manipulated or hacked. In Wisconsin, Clinton received fewer votes in counties that used electronic-voting machines instead of paper ballots. Helderman, however, has since clarified that he believes “the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked.” Helderman, though, holds that it’s not difficult to hack into systems and shift the vote on Election Day, claiming that if he and his Ph.D. students were criminals, they could pull it off.
It’s important to note that several prominent pollsters, including fivethirtyeight.com Founder and Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver, have denounced Bonifaz and Halderman’s analysis. Silver declared that after running a few regressions on factors like race or income level, the apparent gap in Wisconsin essentially disappeared.
Chances are, the recounts will turn maybe a couple thousand of votes to Clinton’s camp, but still not enough for her to actually win the states. (It’ll just make her loss seem that much more unjust). Halderman makes a good point, though. Even if the vote recounts don’t change the election results, at least they’ll increase Americans’ confidence in the election results, which is an essential component of a functioning democracy. So, Clinton probably won’t be our first female president in 2016. But, there’s always 2020!