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Election Fraud? Donald Trump’s win questioned, Jill Stein’s Green Party raises cash for ‘recount’

The Green Party in the United States is demanding a recount of votes in three key states that could potentially affect the outcome of the election that saw Donald Trump chosen as president.

The party was able to raise $2.5 million needed to at least pay for the recount in Wisconsin in less than 12 hours from the time the Greens’ intentions were reported by the media on Wednesday.

Jill Stein, leader of the party that received less than 1% of the national vote, said in a press release that the Greens wanted the recount “because reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many Americans to wonder if our election results are reliable.”

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The Party wants recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan–the three states that determined the result of the 2016 race. The deadline to file for a recount is Friday in Wisconsin, Monday in Pennsylvania and Wednesday in Michigan.

The cost of the Wisconsin recount is $1.1 million, according to the Green Party press release. The release does not say what the cost for all three recounts is, but the party initially sought $2.5 million. That was widely reported as the total amount needed. But once that goal was reached, the target was jacked up to $4.5million.

Stein’s campaign website’s home page appeal for money says the entire cost with legal fees could be $6 million to $7 million. This statement also includes a quote from Stein that blames “foreign agents” for hacking into “party databases, private email servers, and voter databases in certain states.” Her quote in the press release removes the words “foreign agents.”

Slim Margins

Trump narrowly beat Democratic contender Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and is leading in Michigan, which more than two weeks later is still too close to call. Just a 55,000 vote swing is all that is needed in the three states to flip the election to Clinton.

On Tuesday it was reported that a group of U.S. professors–computer scientists and elections lawyers–had held a conference call with the Clinton campaign to ask it to file for an audit in the three states. They said that actual results differed from exit polls and that Trump had done considerably better in areas where electronic voting machines were used. Clinton excelled where paper ballots were used.

Some experts explained that electronic machines were used in rural areas, which were stronger for Trump, while paper ballots were used in urban areas largely backing Clinton.

The academics lobbying the Clinton campaign have suggested that a foreign government may be behind the hacks. The Obama administration had said before the election that Russia was trying to influence the election through hacking, though no evidence was made public.

In his final testimony to Congress last week, outgoing Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted that there was no proof about who was behind the supposed hacks.

The Clinton campaign has made no statement. But many Clinton supporters have backed the effort online. The Trump transition team has made no comment.

Just before the election I speculated here that if Clinton should lose a close election she would cry Russian interference and try to convince the electoral college to flip their votes to her.

Trump won the electoral college vote 290 to 232, with Michigan’s 16 electoral votes still outstanding. 270 votes are needed to win. Clinton won the national popular vote by about 2 million votes.

There is a campaign to get electors from states that voted for Trump to change their vote for Clinton. Twenty-four states do not legally bind electors to vote with the popular will of their states. The electors will vote in their state capitals on December 19. The Congress will certify the election on January 6.

The Green’s Motive

The move by the Greens raises many questions. At face value, they say that the integrity of the electoral system is the only thing at stake. But the Greens must know that the recount effort could only help Clinton and hurt Trump.

Is there some collusion between the Democratic Party and the Greens? Are they a Trojan horse for Clinton who can stay above the fray while getting the recount? Have wealthy Clinton donors been behind the flood of cash into the effort in so short a time? Or are the Greens sincere in wanting voting irregularities exposed?

One theory is that the recount will expose cheating by both the Republicans and Democrats, which is why the Clinton team has remained silent.

Why does one Stein quote mention “foreign agents” while another doesn’t, given that even Clapper has distanced himself from that charge and the Greens have never blamed a foreign power before?

We might never find out the Greens’ real motive. But real drama may soon re-enter the 2016 Election Campaign.

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Joe Lauria
Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@gmail.com and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.