America’s Weird Recount Laws

An irrelevant candidate is triggering a recount in three states Trump won by substantial margins.

hanging-chad-guy

Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, is pushing for recounts in three states where she hardly got any votes. Our bizarre electoral laws are going to allow that to happen.

It’s already happening in Wisconsin:

Green Party officials filed Friday for a recount in Wisconsin, following reports of voting discrepancies, and were seeking a deeper investigation into the election results, which handed the state to Donald Trump two weeks ago.

Wisconsin Green Party co-chairman George Martin said that they were seeking a “reconciliation of paper records” — a request that would go one step further than a simple recount, spurring, he said, an investigation into the integrity of the state’s voting system.
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Late Friday afternoon, the Wisconsin Elections Board said it had received the petition from Stein and the Green Party and “is preparing to move forward with a statewide recount of votes.”
“We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice,” Wisconsin Elections Board Administrator Michael Haas said. “We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating.”

This could, ironically, disenfranchise Wisconsin voters:

Wisconsin will begin a historic presidential recount next week and the state could risk losing its ability to have its 10 electoral votes counted if it doesn’t meet key deadlines next month.

Hitting a Dec. 13 deadline could be particularly tricky if Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is able to force the recount to be conducted by hand, Wisconsin’s top election official said.

Stein and independent presidential candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente separately filed recount requests late Friday, the last day they were able to do so. Stein received about 31,000 votes and De La Fuente about 1,500 out of 3 million cast.

[…]

Wisconsin’s recount will likely begin late next week, once the state has tallied a cost estimate and received payment from Stein’s campaign, said Michael Haas, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Recounts will be done by county boards of canvassers, which will likely have to work nights and weekends, Haas said.

Michigan could be next:

Elections officials are preparing for a possible presidential election recount in Michigan that could begin as soon as next week, state Director of Elections Chris Thomas said Friday.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has indicated she plans to jumpstart a recount in the Great Lakes state over fears that Michigan’s election results could have been manipulated by hackers. Republican President-elect Donald won the state by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to unofficial updated results posted Wednesday.

By Friday afternoon, Stein had raised more than $5 million of her $7 million goal to cover the cost of a recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan “to ensure the integrity of our elections” because “there is a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals,” according to her campaign website. Stein finished nearly 2.3 million votes behind Trump in Michigan and received 1.1 percent of the vote.

Michigan’s deadline for initiating a recount is Wednesday. “We have not heard from anybody,” Thomas said about a Stein recount request. “We’re just trying to be proactive, make sure we have plans.”

Thomas said officials “could probably begin by the end of the week,” although it will be “a huge undertaking in a very short period of time” if it happens.

A recount in Michigan would cost Stein about $790,000 to cover the $125-per-precinct cost for more than 6,300 precincts across the state, Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said.

Thomas has told The Detroit News there is no evidence of any hack or voting system manipulation.

University of Michigan computer scientist Alex Halderman did not return emails or phone calls from The News, but wrote in a Medium.com blog post that the state’s election system was “probably not” hacked. But he has urged Clinton to request a recount to know for sure whether results were manipulated or not.

Thomas said the Stein campaign has not yet contacted officials with the Secretary of State’s office. The deadline for a request is Wednesday if the Board of State Canvassers certifies the election as scheduled on Monday.

The third state being targetted, Pennsylvania, is even stranger in that the Trump margin of victory is rather large. Still, Stein apparently plans to file before its Monday deadline.

Now, the ability of non-factor candidates to demand recounts is certainly not the weirdest thing about our electoral system. OTB front pagers have spilled a lot of pixels over the Electoral College and the fact that the candidate who got nearly three million votes more than the winner was defeated. Still, we live in a country where California still hasn’t managed to finish counting votes in an election that was ostensibly over three weeks ago. Why are vanity candidates allowed to trigger a recount? She simply shouldn’t have standing to file.

It would be one thing if Clinton or the Democratic National Committee were filing these challenges. The margins of Trump’s victory in Wisconsin and Michigan are sufficiently small (indeed, Michigan hasn’t officially been called yet) that changing the outcome is plausible. But she’d need those two states plus Pennsylvania.  And all three states have substantially larger margins than Bush’s over Al Gore in Florida in 2000.

Beyond the silliness of it all, dragging election results out in this manner undermines the legitimacy of the system. Why would we trust the results of a recount that overturned the results of the initial count? Supporters of the candidate whose victory had been declared on election night and then snatched away weeks later would surely believe that the election had been stolen—particularly if the recount was done by partisan officials supporting the other candidate.

In the 2000 contest in Florida, the outcome was essentially a tie. A margin of a few hundred votes out of six million cast is one that’s impossible to replicate with certainly. Even were all the votes cast perfectly—no “hanging chads” or other questionable ballots—random error would produce a different counting every single time. Absent pretty substantial evidence of fraud in the initial count, then, the first count is as good as any.  Any subsequent count that went the other way would be no better in terms of accuracy but would be worse in terms of legitimacy.

The three contests in question in 2016 were, by contrast, much wider. In Michigan and Wisconsin, Stein received more votes than the gap between Clinton and Trump. But there’s no reason to think the results weren’t correct.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    In the 2000 contest in Florida, the outcome was essentially a tie

    The outcome of that re-count will never be known as it was shut down by a politicized Supreme Court.

    If Stein had not asked for the recount, Clinton may well have. There’s no harm in it, and besides – until we get rid of the electoral college our vote is meaningless anyway.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Tony W:

    The outcome of that re-count will never be known as it was shut down by a politicized Supreme Court.

    The recount was illegal under Florida and US law; it was inherently politicized. Afterwards, the New York Times and various other press organizations conducted a recount showing Bush won. Regardless, the margin was so close that it was effectively a tie. (I do believe that more people who voted in Florida intended to vote for Gore; but that’s a completely separate issue.)

    until we get rid of the electoral college our vote is meaningless anyway.

    Only if you view the United States as a single polity and the states as administrative units. Which I, increasingly, do. But we designed the system with the view that the states are quasi-independent actors with sovereign interests.

  3. rachel says:

    Why is she even doing this? Were there credible rumors about rigged voting machines or some such that I missed? Or is this just a jump start on making a list of possible donors for her next tilt at the presidential windmill in 2020? Or something else?

  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Reportedly, Stein has said that she can’t guarantee that contributions to finance the recounts will actually be spent on the recounts. This leads me to believe that she’ll siphon some of that money off to pay campaign debts.

  5. Andy says:

    James,

    So what is your solution?

  6. JKB says:

    This is especially amusing given all the rending of clothes Democrats and #NeverTrumpers did over Trumps cagey decline to declare he would accept the outcome of the vote. Now, who are out rending their clothes and rioting over the actual results?

    An interesting outcome of all this would be the “discovery” of a fair amount of illegal alien votes, or other Democrat-likely fraud. That would only reinforce Trumps election and his campaign rhetoric.

  7. Pch101 says:

    Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked…

    …The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots. Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000. While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/activists-urge-hillary-clinton-to-challenge-election-results.html

    I’m sure that if the situation was reversed that Republicans would be screaming for blood and reminding us of their alleged Second Amendment rights.

    But this impacts Democrats, so of course, it’s just a big whatever. If it doesn’t upset the hard right (read: Real Amuhricahns), then who cares?

  8. Guarneri says:

    Maybe Jill Stein isn’t really the person behind this…….

  9. Tony W says:

    @Guarneri:

    Maybe Jill Stein isn’t really the person behind this…….

    You suspect Trump is taking one last shot at getting out of this thing?

  10. dmichael says:

    OTB needs better caption writers: “…triggering a recount in three states Trump won by substantial margins.” Dr. Joyner concedes that Wisconsin and Michigan were not Trump “substantial” victories but says that Pennsylvania is where Trump’s victory is “rather large.” The official (as of now) count in Pennsylvania shows Trump with 48.8% and HRC with 47.63% or 2,934,583 total votes to 2,863,945 votes for HRC, a difference (according to my arithmetic) of 70,638. I guess that “substantial” is in the eyes of the beholder however, in my view, the article attempts to do more than what the evidence currently shows and more importantly ignores the very real and substantial political benefit of undercutting the legitimacy of the Trump presidency.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Beyond the silliness of it all, dragging election results out in this manner undermines the legitimacy of the system.

    Oh, James, I kind of think the fact that the people voted for Hillary and yet the president will be Trumpy the Pig, stuck a fork in the ‘legitimacy’ of our system. Our system is clearly absurd and indefensible. The whole world is laughing.

  12. Ol' Nat says:

    @dmichael:
    After a little consideration I realized that might mean that Stein lost by substantial margins. It’s still weird.

  13. James Joyner says:

    @Pch101:

    The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.

    This was debunked days ago. The political scientist who made the claim that’s the basis for the story has said the reports misrepresented his findings.

  14. Hal_10000 says:

    @Pch101:

    That analysis is garbage done by people who have no idea how elections work. As Silver, Cohn and others have pointed out, they are basically mistaking demographic differences for something suspicious in the vote totals. Once you account for the differences in demography, those suspicious totals vanish.

    I’ve seen this kind of garbage before. In Virginia, the Democrats claimed an election was rigged because the returns in some districts were “anomalously” different from the previous election. As a colleague of mine testified, these districts were basically the edge of a bell curve. There was nothing anomalous about them any more than there’s something anomalous about Miguel Cabrera having a bad week at the plate.

    I really hope they don’t find anything here. Not because I want Trump to win but because, if it did turn out that some hacking went on, it would tear the country apart. Trump and his supporters would never accept it. Clinton and her supporters would never not accept it.

    (Oh, and should we mention how Stein is raising $7 million from desperate Democrats and promising to do …. something with it? This is pure grifting.)

  15. James Joyner says:

    @dmichael: Pennsylvania is a pretty big margin. While Wisconsin and Michigan are closer, the difference is still well over 10,000 votes in each state. It’s not a Florida 2000 situation.

    @michael reynolds: Lots of countries, including perfectly respectable ones, have weird electoral systems designed to do something other than represent “50% plus 1.” I think the Electoral College is outmoded because Federalism no longer makes as much sense as it did 50, let alone 240, years ago. But it’s not inherently problematic that a popular vote margin caused by an outsized showing in California isn’t reflected in the outcome.

  16. Pch101 says:

    @James Joyner:

    You are confusing a rebuttal with debunking. Holding an alternative point of view does not itself disprove the opposing thesis.

    And I’m sorry, but I’m inclined to give more credence to a full-time computer scientist who has devoted years of his career to studying voting machines than to a blogger.

    In any case, it might help to understand what the thesis is:

    2016 has seen unprecedented cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the election. This summer, attackers broke into the email system of the Democratic National Committee and, separately, into the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and leaked private messages. Attackers infiltrated the voter registration systems of two states, Illinois and Arizona, and stole voter data. And there’s evidence that hackers attempted to breach election offices in several other states.

    In all these cases, Federal agencies publicly asserted that senior officials in the Russian government commissioned these attacks. Russia has sophisticated cyber-offensive capabilities, and has shown a willingness to use them to hack elections. In 2014, during the presidential election in Ukraine, attackers linked to Russia sabotaged the country’s vote-counting infrastructure and, according to published reports, Ukrainian officials succeeded only at the last minute in defusing vote-stealing malware that was primed to cause the wrong winner to be announced. Russia is not the only country with the ability to pull off such an attack on American systems — most of the world’s military powers now have sophisticated cyberwarfare capabilities.

    Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not… (But) the only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence — paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

    https://medium.com/@jhalderm/want-to-know-if-the-election-was-hacked-look-at-the-ballots-c61a6113b0ba

    In other words, voting machines are often lousy technology, and there was motive and opportunity to manipulate them, as well as examples of these same culprits tampering with other elections.

    Do you not see the irony of Republicans who scream about voter fraud this and voter fraud that to dismiss the notion of voter fraud when it suits them? If anyone should be eager to recount the votes, it should be the conservatives who claim that voter fraud is so pervasive that the laws have to be changed in order to prevent it.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    There are not plenty of other democratic countries where the system ignores the voters in favor of an arcane and outmoded system whose raison d’être goes back to slavery.

    We look like morons who were manipulated by a foreign government, manipulated by an idiot FBI director, and nevertheless voted by a 2 million vote margin for. . . the loser, elevating a completely unfit clown who is welcomed only by our enemies. Had we declared a national day of naked public sh!t-smearing I suppose we could look slightly more ridiculous than we do, but not by much.

    At this point the notion that the United States has anything to say to any country about democracy will just bring laughter. We are no longer the beacon of democracy, we are the living proof that democratic systems can fail catastrophically.

  18. Hal_10000 says:

    @Pch101:

    The voting machines themselves can not be hacked as they are not connected to the internet. You would need physical access to the machine and you would need to do it the night before an election because the machines are regularly tested. And you would need to be able to put the seals on the hardware back. Hackers attacked voting registries. That’s not the same as attacking the machines. Here’s Vox on the subject. I mean, I realize it’s Vox, Purveyor of Fake News that Liberals Like (TM). But still.

    The silver lining of the “rigged election!” cries from Trump is that the “rigged election!” cries from Democrats come pre-rebutted.

    I’ll admit that on election night I entertained the thought that the Russians had hacked the election. But the more I thought about it, the more like wishful thinking it seemed to me. If this is a hack, it is an incredible one as it manages to exactly mimic the demographic patterns we saw throughout the country and in exit polls.

  19. bill says:

    @Sleeping Dog: bingo! i think her meaning of “green” and her supporters meaning of “green” are two different things.
    and this is just pumping up the desperate losers who can’t cope with hillary’s loss. even the obama admin said they should “accept it”.

  20. Pch101 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Well, we have your opinion:

    The voting machines themselves can not be hacked as they are not connected to the internet.

    versus Halderman’s more expert opinion:

    It doesn’t matter whether the voting machines are connected to the Internet. Shortly before each election, poll workers copy the ballot design from a regular desktop computer in a government office, and use removable media (like the memory card from a digital camera) to load the ballot onto each machine. That initial computer is almost certainly not well secured, and if an attacker infects it, vote-stealing malware can hitch a ride to every voting machine in the area.

    Please go ahead and list your credentials, and explain why I should believe you instead of Halderman.

  21. Gustopher says:

    I’m still trying to figure out how a recount would tell us anything about electronic machines that leave no physical evidence of the votes.

  22. Gustopher says:

    In the 2000 contest in Florida, the outcome was essentially a tie. A margin of a few hundred votes out of six million cast is one that’s impossible to replicate with certainly. Even were all the votes cast perfectly—no “hanging chads” or other questionable ballots—random error would produce a different counting every single time.

    Actually, it is well known that the initial counts are particularly bad — often off by a full percentage point. The counting machines miss marks, drop entire ballots, etc. Human error causes boxes of ballots to be missed (this tends to happen in cities more — it’s easier to count the ballots of a few precincts than it is to count the ballots of thirty precincts all crammed into a single voting place, and then sent off to a central county location with thirty other polling places, and everyone wants the results immediately)

    It usually doesn’t matter, since the election has a bigger swing than the margin of error, which is why there isn’t always a slower, more deliberate recount. But a lot of states have automatic recount laws because of this.

    A hand recount, with multiple people examining each ballot (to give you the needed checks and balances, you want opposing partisans), is going to have a much lower margin of error. And our democracy deserves no less when it can affect the outcome.

  23. Zachriel says:

    Why is everyone freaking out about a recount. Isn’t it part of the regular process? Even if it doesn’t change the results, it may show weaknesses in the current process.

  24. wr says:

    @James Joyner: ” But it’s not inherently problematic that a popular vote margin caused by an outsized showing in California isn’t reflected in the outcome.”

    Sure. Unless you’re a Californian and have to live with the fact that you will always be marginalized because you live in a populous state and your political opinion doesn’t go Republican.

    How many times do we hear that our vote just isnt’ as good as anyone else’s because we don’t live in a dying, rural state? At what point does the system begin to lose credibility?

    Because it’s not just the electoral college. It’s the Senate. It’s the way the Republicans rigged the Supreme Court.

    And yes, every one of these is legal and constitutional. But once more than half the country realizes that all the legal and constitutional measures are being used to make sure their wishes are never enacted, the system begins to crack.

  25. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Make good on your promise. Move to New Zealand. The whole world is laughing at you.

  26. Gustopher says:

    @wr: Legal and constitutional doesn’t always mean fair or right, and that’s something people tend to forget.

    The preamble to the constitution explicitly refers to a “more perfect union”, rather than claiming that this was the perfect union. And throughout our history we have been changing the constitution to make it more perfect — and almost always in the direction of more democracy, not less (term limiting the presidency being the only undemocratic thing I can immediately think of)

    When people say we should defer to the wisdom of the founding fathers, I look to slavery, women without the vote, and three-pointed hats. The founding fathers weren’t always right. They also knew that, and supplied a mechanism to change things.

  27. Hal_10000 says:

    @Pch101:

    I always know you’re losing an argument when you start saying CREDENTIALS CREDENTIALS! as if someone having a credential ends all arguments. Because we know experts are never wrong or never venture far outside their field. You sound like the idiots saying there is no racial bias in policing because some Harvard dude did a study.

    The problem, again, is that the machines are tested before the voting even begins. And the final tallies are checked against the number of voters. And while he may know stuff about computers, he knows nothing about elections. You can tell because he didn’t even do the basic sanity check of comparing returns to demographics to see if they were unusual. It took about ten minutes for Nate Silver (and others) to refute it. What he did wouldn’t pass muster as a undergrad senior thesis.

    This is the problem with your default to CREDENTIALS!! CREDENTIALS!! as some kind of shield. There is always some credentialed expert somewhere who has some garbage theory about something.

  28. Hal_10000 says:

    It’s one thing to say, “Elections could be hacked” which has been shown to be possible. It’s another to claim, “this election has been hacked” based on misunderstanding of election returns.

  29. Pch101 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    So in your not-so-expert opinion, computers can’t be hacked.

    The fact that a computer science expert explained how they could be infected with malware means absolutely nothing at all just because you say so.

    Thanks for providing yet another example of how political conservatism in America is built proudly on a foundation of people who are proud of not knowing what they are talking about. God forbid that we presume that the uninformed and ignorant have any less to contribute than others who take the time to learn about it.

  30. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    The problem, again, is that the machines are tested before the voting even begins. And the final tallies are checked against the number of voters.

    Yeah. Because we know IT experts would never think of something like that. It’s just like R senators regularly find serious errors in climate research. Glass of Whisky anyone?

    Yes, the machines are tested. The problem is that at least the Diebold machines are not tested “live” as that would allow to “simulate” a poll and then submit it as real. They are tested in a dedicated logic and accuracy testing mode. A virus can detect whether the machine runs in test or live mode and act accordingly. It’s basically the same system the Volkswagen software used.

    You can find details here. Just remember that typically you’re not as clever as you think you are and the experts are not as much ivory-tower idiots as you think they are.

  31. Pch101 says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    Top Ten reasons why I know more than any of those supposed ivory tower IT experts:

    10. I have used both Gmail and Hotmail
    9. Once I prepared a spreadsheet, and it almost worked
    8. I know the difference between Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. Well, kind of.
    7. I am an advanced user of iTunes
    6. Pokémon GO!
    5. I once read an article about computers on Wired, and understood at least half of it. OK, almost half.
    4. I successfully installed two different kinds of browsers on my desktop.
    3. I’m hip enough to know that tablets aren’t just for Moses and commandments anymore.
    2. You won’t find a better Tetris player.
    And the number one reason:
    1. Internet porn

  32. Hal_10000 says:

    @Pch101:

    1) I’m citing other experts who are equally familiar with the topic (and way more familiar with elections). You seem to have this mental block where the only people whose opinion we should listen to are experts who agree with you.

    2) I have PhD in astrophysics, about 70 published papers and 20 years of research experience in astronomy. All of that merely allows me to be wrong with authority when it come to astronomy. Being an expert doesn’t mean you’re right. In fact, if you’re familiar with how science works, experts are wrong more often than they’re right.

  33. Pch101 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I cited an article written by a computer scientist.

    The only link that you’ve posted here is one entitled, “I’m a Republican election lawyer. Here’s why the election can’t be rigged” which was obviously not written by a computer scientist.

    Even worse, it doesn’t even address the points raised by my link to Halderman, since:

    (a) Your article was directed toward Trump’s claim of a “rigged election” that were based upon nothing and
    (b) It was written prior to the election, and therefore doesn’t even rebut Halderman’s points about hacking.

    Halderman based his supposition on actual election data that highlight statistical anomalies, not wild accusations made before the fact. And he isn’t claiming that the entire election is rigged, but that the data suggests the possibility that some voting machines may have been hacked (even though he suspects that the odds are high that they weren’t), and that the hackers may have been overseas (read: not American Republicans.)

    I have to ask: Are you always this disingenuous? The fact that you emphasized that your link was from Vox and was therefore liberal as you simultaneously failed to point out that it was written by a Republican who is no computer expert is the sort of gimmick that I would expect from a liar.

  34. Kylopod says:

    But she’d need those two states plus Pennsylvania.

    Actually (using the interactive map over at 270towin.com), she’d just need Penn. plus Michigan to gain a razor-thin 270-268. Wisconsin would be irrelevant in this scenario–its 10 electoral votes wouldn’t be sufficient to put her over the top even when combined with one of the other three states, and its votes wouldn’t be necessary in the event of a PA + MI victory. (Not that I’m saying any of this is likely to happen–I think the possibility of one of these states alone, let alone all three, flipping after a recount, is vastly improbable.) Of course, in that scenario the possibility of faithless electors would garner a lot more attention than it is now.

  35. Hal_10000 says:

    Halderman based his supposition on actual election data that highlight statistical anomalies,

    Yes, and as James pointed out above, Other. Experts. Pointed. Out. That. This. Analysis. Was. Wrong. Those statistical anomalies only exist because he wasn’t taking into account demographic information. When you account for that the anomalies disappear. This is a basic sanity check on the analysis and he failed at it.

    Does your browser only show you pages that agree with you?

  36. al-Ameda says:

    I’m enjoying this, it’s a nice break from the “Ben Carson has changed his mind” news breaks.

    Just imagine if he situation was reversed and Trump was calling for recounts? All of this would generally be fine with conservatives simply because Trump gave us all advance notice that the election was rigged, and that he would accept the outcome of the election as long as he won.

  37. James Joyner says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Just imagine if he situation was reversed and Trump was calling for recounts? All of this would generally be fine with conservatives simply because Trump gave us all advance notice that the election was rigged, and that he would accept the outcome of the election as long as he won.

    I was a Hillary voter, albeit an unenthusiastic one. I think Trump is going to be a disaster.

    The main complaint here is that *Stein* is allowed to call for a recount. She was a spoiler candidate. If Hillary or the DNC were calling for a recount, I’d be much more sympathetic since she had a plausible chance of winning based on the first count. Pennsylvania is so far out of reach, though, that that particular contest strikes me as not recount-worthy.

    My secondary point is a longstanding one that recounts tend to undermine the legitimacy of the process when we’re talking large numbers. It’s one thing to do it for a local race with a few hundred or even a couple thousand votes. When you’re in the millions, though, there’s just too much room for error and hanky panky.

  38. Pch101 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Yes, and as James pointed out above, Other. Experts. Pointed. Out. That. This. Analysis. Was. Wrong.

    As did Mr. Joyner, you confuse the presentation of a counterargument with the debunking of the original argument.

    Certainly, you yourself failed to debunk anything. Halderman describes a scenario in which malware can be spread, and you offer the rebuttal is that it can’t be because…you said so.

    I then asked you to provide some compelling reason why I should accept “Hal says it’s impossible” argument just because, and you failed. So we’re back to you being contradicted by a guy who appears to be a lot more knowledgeable than you are and who can defend his argument, whereas you think that you’re being clever by posting an article that was written by a Republican lawyer that wasn’t on point and trying to mislead us by suggesting that it was from a liberal.

    And in any case, you don’t even seem to understand Halderman’s article in the first place. If you did, then you would know that he is not claiming that the election is rigged

  39. Jack says:

    @Pch101: So, you’re against photo ID requirements to vote and encourage illegal aliens to cast ballots…

    But when you lose you want us to trust you to recount the votes? To protect the sanctity of elections? Are you really this stupid?

  40. Pch101 says:

    @Jack:

    If your talents for arithmetic are on par with your ability to comprehend factual information, then I certainly hope that we don’t rely upon your math skills.

  41. JohnMcC says:

    Just for the record — for those who don’t spend time gathering a variety of left-leaning opinions — the ‘true Scotsmen’ of the liberal view that I read are against this recount. The contention of those farther left than I is that Trump’s majority will (of course) survive this recount and his election will be ‘legitimized’ thereby. The interference of Dir Comey, of WikiLeaks and etc, etc are the real reasons for the Democrat’s failure in this line of thinking.

  42. Pch101 says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Trump’s claims that the election would be rigged did nothing to hurt him. If anything, those accusations only fired up his base (who, oddly enough, no longer believe that the election was rigged.)

    Demanding recounts can be an effective tool for reminding Democratic voters that Trump came in second place and that he lacks legitimacy as a president. If handled correctly, then this is the first round in a four-year battle to destabilize his first term regime.

    I doubt that anyone who is leading this effort earnestly believes that it is going to keep Trump out of office. But the recount can produce benefits even though it won’t change who is going to the White House in January. Constant complaining works.

  43. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Hal_10000:

    experts are wrong more often than they’re right.

    Ah, that explains why Presidents rely on economic and foreign affairs experts !

  44. Stonetools says:

    Did the Russians computer hack the voting computers? Probably not.
    Did the Russians influence the election with a major disinformation campaign aimed at weakening support for Clinton and throwing the election to Trump. Damned right. It was one of the under reported stories of the campaign. Thanks to Judicial Watch and other right wing groups the media was led to fixate on EMAILZ! and CLINTON FOUNDATIONZ! It completely missed the Russian intervention till after the election. Clinton tried to warn them but the press brushed her off. Now of course , they are all over it. Too little, too late.

  45. davod says:

    “Hitting a Dec. 13 deadline could be particularly tricky if Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is able to force the recount to be conducted by hand, Wisconsin’s top election official said.”

    Maybe disenfranchising several states is the fallback position. How many of these states need to be disenfranchised for Hillary to have the larger number of votes in the electoral college?

  46. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Not really, but it can explain why a leader might seek a variety of opinions on foreign policy or economics or domestic policy or military actions or job creation or infrastructure improvements or…

  47. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    “How many of these states need to be disenfranchised for Hillary to have the larger number of votes in the electoral college? ”

    And how do they know that the result won’t be that the election goes to the House because neither candidate has the 270 EVs required to win?

  48. Pch101 says:

    Not quite on point, but the blatant corruption has already begun.

    Short version of the story below:
    -Trump insists he and his family will spend a lot of time at Trump Tower in Manhattan
    -Trump’s desire to hang out in New York forces the Secret Service and NYPD to devote tremendous resources to protect him
    -Trump Tower has a great deal of vacant space in Trump Tower.

    So guess what? That’s right: The Trump organization wants to LEASE the space to the Secret Service.

    The lease deal alone could cost more than $3 million a year, based on prevailing rates in the building.

    The Post reported earlier this week that the 17th floor at Trump Tower is available. The floor is currently being marketed in three, 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot parcels at up to $105 per square foot.

    At that rate the federal government would be paying $1.5 million a year for just one floor and double that for two levels of Trump Tower offices.

    http://nypost.com/2016/11/24/trump-tower-security-may-take-over-2-floors-and-cost-millions/

    But hey, let’s worry about the email server, instead.

  49. al-Ameda says:

    @James Joyner:

    My secondary point is a longstanding one that recounts tend to undermine the legitimacy of the process when we’re talking large numbers. It’s one thing to do it for a local race with a few hundred or even a couple thousand votes. When you’re in the millions, though, there’s just too much room for error and hanky panky.

    Point well-taken.

    Again, I’m pretty sure that eventually Democrats will get over the the fact that they won the popular vote by 2 million votes and yet lost the election.

    Finally, I’m still not sure how Republicans can say with a straight face that Democrats should give Trump a chance. I mean if you’re talking about the same level of chance they gave Barack Obama, then, yes, I understand, but any more than that I do not understand.

  50. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    Hey, all you folks who were saying that Trump was just in it for the money and attention? This is what that looks like.

    Stein is doing this simply for the money, the attention, and to be a pain in the ass.

    Hillary conceded, and now is just being a petty, vindictive pain in the ass. Apparently that huge drop in donations to the Clinton Foundation hurt even more than I hoped.

    Time for Trump to punch back twice as hard. As others have suggested, he needs to walk back his decision to not prosecute Hillary, and start calling for recounts in the states she won.

    Trump was gracious and magnanimous in his victory, and now Hillary’s burning him over that. He needs to make an example of her.

  51. wr says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Oh, Baby Jenos, I pray that your God-king takes every bit of your advice. I do believe he should force the prosecution of his political rival for the crime of using the existing election laws. I think he should also have his racist pig of an AG start mass arrests of black men in cities, and I think he should send American troops to protect Trump-branded buildings around the world.

    The people who voted for him thinking he’d help them should see really fast what he actually is — a sleazy, corrupt internet troll…

  52. wr says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: “Trump was gracious and magnanimous in his victory, and now Hillary’s burning him over that. He needs to make an example of her.”

    Oh, and Baby Jenos, what is that example meant to say? Because from your post you seem to want him to demonstrate that anyone who criticized your God-king will be punished by the United States.

    Now given that you’ve spent the last few years spreading vicious lies about the current president, do you think HE should make an example out of you? Or do you believe we should only criminalize being mean to the president next year?

  53. JohnMcC says:

    @davod: Two.

  54. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @wr: (click)

  55. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Hal_10000: @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Applying the premise that experts are “wrong more often than right” how does a decision maker weigh opinions between experts? I’ve have no quarrel with seeking a variety of opinions, but if they all are from “experts”, who, by the stated premise are more often wrong than correct all the decision maker is left with is a variety of mostly wrong assessments. Not much help.

    My point is that the Hal’s assertion that “experts are wrong more often than they’re right” lacks appropriate context. Experts in brain surgery we hope are more often correct than not. On the other hand an astrophysicist speculating on something that is not observable – yeah maybe more often wrong than right. Hal wants to dispute that a computer scientist suggests that computers, or more specifically electronic counting devices, are susceptible to interference from external malicious outside interference. His argument rests on his assertion that….

    experts are wrong more often than they’re right.

    I’ll accept Halderman’ s proposition until it can be proven wrong.

  56. michael reynolds says:

    Now the Idiot-Elect is alleging that the two million votes are illegal votes. 2 million.

    The fun part now is watching his toadies pivot at light speed from, “It was all totally above-board and we should accept it,” to, “Hillary’s votes are fake and the whole election is compromised except for the outcome.”

    Quick, lickspittles, quick! Pivot! Change your opinions in mid-air! You can do it! It’s easy when you have no spine.

  57. michael reynolds says:

    Also, small, teeny tiny, minor point: if Trump is alleging that there are at least 2 million fraudulent votes that’s clearly a cause for a nationwide recount. Those ‘fraudulent’ votes may also have elected Democratic Senators and House members. Why, it’s a fraud on a YUUUUUGE scale, and we owe it to the integrity of the process to follow up vigorously.

  58. An Interested Party says:

    Our next president in a nutshell…

    The funny thing about his wild, and frankly pathetic, flailing is that if there were millions of people who voted illegally, that in and of itself would justify a recount; the very thing that he is spending his time railing against. And one of the only documented cases of voter fraud in 2016 was when a woman in Iowa, who happened to be a Trump supporter, was charged with voting twice. 

    This is a man who expects to earn respect in the office of the presidency, who instead of receiving daily intelligence briefings is meeting with foreign developers who have a stake in his company and waging a war against a Broadway musical instead of condemning near-daily acts of hatred committed in his name.

    There was no such thing as a sore winner until Trump won the election.

  59. wr says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: What’s wrong, Baby Jenos? You don’t like the sound of what you say when you hear it coming back at you?

  60. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @wr: (click)(click)

    There, just had to get some fresh batteries…

  61. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @michael reynolds: Also, small, teeny tiny, minor point: if Trump is alleging that there are at least 2 million fraudulent votes that’s clearly a cause for a nationwide recount.

    I realize you’re busy packing up to move and advance your sheep-molesting hobby, but there was no national election, hence no national recount. There were 51 presidential elections, 34 Senate races, and 435 House elections.

    Each state sets its own rules and procedures for elections. If you’re worried about electronic voting machines being hacked, a lot of states don’t use them. Some states use paper ballots and electronic counting machines; that’s an entirely different situation. And hell, some let the cities and towns make the choice. In the last four communities I’ve lived in, I’ve always used paper ballots. Three of those communities had me feed it into a counting machine (which looked disturbingly like a shredder, but without the disturbing noises); the fourth used an old-fashioned ballot box.

    Hillary won Illinois. I wonder how many votes she got from Chicago graveyards?

    Hillary won California. I wonder how many illegal aliens used their perfectly valid driver’s licenses to vote against Trump?

    Hillary does NOT want to start playing the recount game. Trump has a tendency to treat his defeated rivals in kind. She was initially gracious; so was he. Now she’s being vindictive; Trump will most likely retaliate, and harder.

    Hillary might want to reconsider asking Obama for a pardon before too long, if for no other reason to take that option out of Trump’s hands.

  62. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    That was not what I was hoping for. You didn’t complete even a single axel. It’s like you kicked off, but in mid-air you lost it and landed hard. I don’t know how you can recover. I’m sorry to say I think you’re out of the medal race.

    I appreciate the Wikipedia research you put in, but you need to try again, see if you can’t stay on-topic this time.

    Now, get back on your skates, dry your eyes and this time, really commit.

  63. Conservative Veteran says:

    @Tony W: Getting rid of the Electoral College would mean that five states would elect the POTUS, New York, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and California. Explain how the votes of the citizens of the other 45 states would have an impact.

  64. Conservative Veteran says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: If one of the candidates don’t get the majority of the votes 50%+1, the House of Representatives will vote for the President, one vote per state. The Senate will vote for the Vice President, again one vote per state.

  65. An Interested Party says:

    Hillary might want to reconsider asking Obama for a pardon before too long, if for no other reason to take that option out of Trump’s hands.

    Oh that’s quite amusing…not only would she probably escape from that unscathed (as someone else around here noted recently, the Clintons have been “investigated” for decades by Republicans and those Republicans have nothing to show for their efforts) but it would also showcase Trump as no better than some petty, two-bit Latin American caudillo trying to punish his political enemies…

  66. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @An Interested Party: Funny, I was thinking that Hillary and her “the rules are for the peasants” attitude is far more banana republic…

  67. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @michael reynolds: That was a superb demonstration of W. C. Fields’ advice: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”

    Or, in your case, a bit of rhetorical flourish to disguise the total lack of substance in your response. Well done, of course, as one should expect, but still empty calories.

    And yes, I Wikied the number of Senate races, but the rest… me, just me.

    In retrospect, I wonder if omitting the DC non-voting rep from the total was correct or not.

    Yeah, I was right to skip that one. It’s as meaningless as… well, your response.

  68. Mikey says:

    You’re missing the point, Jenos, which is that your idiot-elect has just called into question the legitimacy of an election that he actually won.

    If you can’t see how utterly, incredibly, galactically stupid that is, there is nothing anyone alive–today, yesterday, last year, or ever–can say to help you.

  69. Pch101 says:

    @Mikey:

    Trump is providing political theater for the morons who love him. This is what the base refers to as “straight talk.”

    This provides a remarkable preview of his presidency. When challenged, he will simply pull crap out of his backside and fling it like meat to his hoard of useful idiots.

    Historians will look back at this as the Lord of the Flies presidency.

  70. al-Ameda says:

    @Conservative Veteran:

    Getting rid of the Electoral College would mean that five states would elect the POTUS, New York, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and California. Explain how the votes of the citizens of the other 45 states would have an impact.

    No Electoral College? Then the vote of a citizen of Laramie, Wyoming would have the same weight as the vote of a citizen in Dallas, Texas. That seems as it should be.

  71. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @Mikey: You’re missing the point, Jenos, which is that your idiot-elect has just called into question the legitimacy of an election that he actually won.

    There is an extremely slim but non-zero chance that this recount idiocy could cost Trump the presidency. Plus, it sets a very dangerous precedent for future elections.

    Trump intends to fight for what he won. Hillary conceded, and is now trying to walk that back for whatever reason, and that has to be squelched.

  72. Mikey says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Yeah, that’s a facile rationalization for a completely inane series of statements. The man is unhinged. He will lead us to ruin if we allow it, and you will cheer the whole way.

  73. michael reynolds says:

    @Mikey:
    Jenos will have to get much quicker on his feet. It’s hard to keep rationalizing the random eruptions of an unhinged toddler.

  74. Zachriel says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Apparently that huge drop in donations to the Clinton Foundation hurt even more than I hoped.

    The article is talking about 2015 compared to 2014. Perhaps the Clintons were busy doing something else. Let’s play a game of telephone:

    PJ Media: In Wake of Hillary’s Defeat, Donations to Clinton Foundation Dry Up

  75. michael reynolds says:

    @Zachriel:
    Yay, more poor people will die of AIDS. Yay! Mission accomplished!

    Meanwhile, the Idiot-Elect’s ‘charity’ will no doubt be buying even larger portraits to hang in his vast, corrupt empire of narcissism.

  76. @Tony W: America has become a fraudulent nation that never does recounts of votes. The officials come up with some cock and bull stories to prevent any recount. These people have no right to open their mouths criticizing elections in other democratic nations like Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland and most notably India. They do everything improperly and have a big mouth to talk about others who do thongs better.

  77. Tyrell says:

    Most people now have turned their attention to another count: the college football playoff selections.