Seven million dollars. That’s approximately how much the total recount effort mounted by Green Party candidate Jill Stein will cost when one factors in the total costs of the Wisconsin recount, the abortive Michigan recount, and the legal expenses for Dr. Stein’s efforts in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
With all 72 Wisconsin counties now reporting completion and about 100% of the votes counted, the net result has been a gain of 131 votes for Donald Trump.
The counties reporting completion include the state’s two Democratic powerhouses, Dane County (in which the state capital, Madison, is situated, fondly nicknamed by the rest of the state “Moscow on Lake Mendota” for its leftist leanings) and Milwaukee County, where the state’s largest city is located. Neither county has reported any major discrepancies.
According to the Wisconsin Election Commission, Trump gained 844 votes from the recount, and Clinton gained 713 votes. Stein gained an additional 66 votes. That means that, for most of us, nothing changes.
The total cost in Wisconsin is estimated at $3.9M, of which $3.5M has been paid in advance by the Stein campaign. Her campaign will be billed for the rest.
For most of us, the integrity of the electoral process has been resoundingly confirmed, but Stein will not give up. According to the Detroit Free Press, in a statement issued after the Michigan State Supreme Court halted the recount, Stein characterized the decision as “a hot mess”:
We are fighting for the right to vote, and to make sure that every vote counts.
According to the Huffington Post, she also said:
We asked, “Do we have a voting system we can trust? And we got a resounding ‘no’ … We’ve exhausted what we can do here in Michigan, and I think at this point … we need to fight for those reforms. We need to fight to ensure that we have a vote we can count on.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has rejected a recount as well. Testimony was presented by “election expert” J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan on the likelihood of a cyber attack against Pennsylvania’s system, which he described as antiquated and vulnerable, and which Stein called “a national disgrace.” Yet a former machine inspector for the state, Michael Shamos, retorted:
The scenarios that have been posited are about as likely that androids from outer space are living among us. It’s possible, but there is no evidence to support it.
All of this comes, of course, with the backdrop of the CIA report leaked to the Washington Post asserting that Russian government agencies actively intervened in the election on Trump’s behalf. These are allegations which must be taken seriously; it certainly is not beyond the Russians to attempt something of this nature. As was noted last year at The Federalist, there exists evidence that the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy sought Soviet intervention in the 1984 U.S. election. As was pointed out several times by Erick Erickson, among others, both during the primaries and the general election, there is a great deal of evidence that Russians attempted to use social media to influence the election. Russian security services are still considered the likely source for the hacked emails of Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman which were aired by WikiLeaks during the general election, despite Julian Assange’s repeated denials.
The problem is, of course, that the CIA has long been suspected of being politicized and telling the administration, especially Democratic administrations, what they want to hear. And it appears that whatever Russian efforts or motivations may have been involved, they did not manage to hack into any significant number of election machines and did not throw the election.
Since it was obvious that Dr. Stein had no chance of overturning an election in which she received less than 1% of the vote, what was this all about?
Was there in fact illegal collusion between her campaign and Hillary Clinton’s, who might have been viewed by the Greens as the lesser of two evils? The fact that Clinton first conceded on election night — as Reince Priebus has claimed there was an agreement between the two principal parties — then reneged and supported the recount effort certainly makes that possible.
Was the whole thing simply a publicity stunt and fundraising scheme for far-Left causes? Dr. Stein’s antics ginned up far more attention than anything she said or did during the campaign itself. Her recount effort raised roughly twice as much money as she raised while running.
The 2016 recount is simply an odd footnote in the history of the oddest election of my lifetime. Now, let’s hope for the smooth transfer of power our system is designed to promote.
This article was updated at 3:19 p.m. PST.