Michigan Republicans agree with the Green Party’s presidential candidate, Jill Stein, that there really isn’t a snowball’s chance of changing the result of the state’s Nov. 8 vote.
So why, they wonder, is she doing it?
Michigan GOP Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel called a recount of the votes cast in the state’s Nov. 8 presidential election “an unnecessary waste of time and resources.”
“Jill Stein received 1.07 percent of the vote in Michigan. She is 2.2 million votes behind Donald Trump,” said McDaniel on Tuesday, the day before Stein’s camp was expected to file by deadline asking for the Michigan recount. “The Stein camp has acknowledged there is zero evidence of fraud or tampering and has acknowledged the results of the election are not expected to change.”
Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have been targeted by Stein for a recount of presidential election votes. The process had already begun in the other two states as McDaniel and other Michigan GOP officials held a conference call with reporters to voice their objections.
“The unwillingness to accept the outcome undermines the will of Michigan voters and the election process. It’s nothing more than a fundraising scam,” McDaniel said.
Michigan elections director Chris Thomas called Stein’s request for a recount “odd” because typically a candidate requests the votes be counted again because his or her margin of defeat was small enough to offer a glimmer of hope for victory.
But, as McDaniel said, Stein only received 51,463 votes in Michigan, or 1.07 percent. She didn’t even beat Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who received 172,136 votes.
Even though Trump beat Hillary Clinton by fewer than 11,000 votes in Michigan, Thomas said it would be unprecedented to find enough mistakes to make up for that margin.
There could be a small chance that one or two of those states could flip to the Clinton side of the ledger. However for Clinton to take the oath of office in January, all three states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – would have to flip to the Democrats’ side to overcome Trump’s Electoral College majority, the Cook Political Report reported.
But Stein said in a statement on her website that this effort is not about helping either Trump or Clinton.
“Reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many American [sic] to wonder if our election results are reliable,” Stein said. “We deserve elections we can trust.”
That is what is written on her website’s home page.
However, on Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes Show on Monday, Stein drilled down on the statement by saying she chose Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin not as a “partisan choice,” but because pollsters and pundits agreed that Hillary was going to win those states.
“This was zooming in on the states that have the markings of being most vulnerable to hacking because they had thin margins,” Stein said. “They went the opposite way of what was expected and they had some kind of voting system vulnerability.”
Beyond Stein’s motivations and her smaller-than-miniscule chance of changing the election results, Michigan Republicans said they have another problem with what she’s doing: the price.
“Astronomical cost” was a phrase used repeatedly by McDaniel. Estimates of the cost of the recount range from $900,000 to $2 million. But McDaniel warned that based on the $3.5 million projected cost of the Wisconsin recount, even the $2 million estimate might be low.
The filing fee that Stein’s camp will have to pay will be used to offset the cost of the recount. The amount of the fee was still being added up at the time of the GOP conference call, but it was expected to be in the neighborhood of $790,000.
Obviously, it will fall far short of the actual expense.
Eric Doster, an attorney for the Michigan GOP, said because state and county officials were already in “full recount mode for the recount “ it was difficult to come up with an accurate estimate of the cost to state taxpayers.
“There are a lot of hidden costs that are difficult to be quantified because instead of doing the other clerk duties that folks are supposed to be doing, they are planning for a recount that has yet to be filed,” said Doster.
Former Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer, functioning as the attorney in the state representing Stein, admitted the cost of the recount could go over the $790,000 filing fee.
Yet Brewer said the expense of the recount shouldn’t be a concern.
“Democracy is priceless. The integrity of our elections is priceless. If one vote was not counted properly that should be taken care of and fixed,” Brewer said. “It’s not about dollars and cents. It’s about trust in the elections system. There are ways to hack and manipulate the machines.”
Thomas said his office would begin the recount Friday and Saturday, assuming they receive Stein’s request by the end of the day Wednesday.
Of course, Donald Trump could always file an objection to the recount, which could block the process.
If Michigan elections officials sound like they are making this up as they go along, it is only because they are. Even the deadline for completing their work might wind up being in dispute.
Chris Thomas said his people had to dig out the state’s 19th century law covering a presidential election recount. The best they can figure is that the recount has to be completed six days before the Dec. 19 Electoral College vote.
But what if they don’t meet the deadline?
“The question that’s out there … what happens if we’re not done by the 13th?” Thomas said Monday. “And I think the recount’s probably off at that point. That’s what the Supreme Court did back in 2000. It stopped the process right there.”
Doster warned that could mean Michigan’s electors might not be able to cast their votes. McDaniel said if that happens it would mean all of the state’s voters would be “disenfranchised” from the election.
Brewer said there was “no basis” for the GOP’s doomsday scenario of Michigan’s voters being excluded from the Nov. 8 election.