looks like our last issue’s cover is still relevant! “Will Hillary Steal the US Election?”
Trump dismisses Wisconsin recount drive as ‘ A scam’
Republican President-elect Donald Trump has described an impending recount of votes in Wisconsin as a “scam”.
Mr Trump, who narrowly won the state, said the results “should be respected instead of being challenged or abused”.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein had initiated the recount. She also wants recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania, citing “statistical anomalies”.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign has said it would participate in Wisconsin’s recount.
Results would need to be overturned in all three states to alter the outcome of the 8 November presidential election.
In a statement released by his transition team on Saturday, Mr Trump accused Dr Stein of trying to “fill her coffers with money” on the pretext of asking for donations towards a recount.
“The people have spoken and the election is over,” the statement said.
Dr Stein defended her recount initiative, telling CNN that “the point to drive home here is that having a secure elections process benefits us all”.
She also suggested that she was open to looking at recounts in other states – not just Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign’s general counsel, Marc Elias, said the camp and outside experts had been “conducting an extensive review of election results, searching for any signs that the voting process had been tampered with”.
He said there was no evidence to conclude the election had been sabotaged, but “we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported”.
Clinton camp joins in
Mr Elias noted that the number of votes separating Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton in the closest of the three states – Michigan – “well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount”.
However, he said the campaign would join in “on principle” in the Midwestern states if Dr Stein followed through on her promise.
The Green Party nominee reportedly wants to be sure computer hackers did not skew the poll in favour of Mr Trump.
Concerns over possible Russian interference had been expressed in the run-up to the vote.
The US government has said Russian state actors were behind hacks on the Democratic National Committee, a claim denied by Moscow.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission said it had received recount petitions, and the process would begin after Dr Stein’s campaign had paid the fee, which the commission was still calculating.
Dr Stein’s campaign needs to raise millions of dollars to cover the fees for the vote recount in all three states.
Her website says nearly $6m (£4.8m; €5.6m) has already been raised toward a $7m target. It says this is enough to fund the recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The deadline for the petition for the recount in Wisconsin was Friday, while Pennsylvania’s deadline is Monday, and Michigan’s is Wednesday.
Michigan is yet to declare its final results.
Wisconsin provides only 10 votes in the crucial electoral college that gave Mr Trump victory in the 8 November election.
Wins there for Mrs Clinton, as well as in Michigan (16 electoral votes) and Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), would have clinched the presidency for the Democrat.
Clinton’s presidential campaign said on Saturday it would help with efforts to secure recounts in several states, even as the White House defended the declared results as “the will of the American people”.
The campaign’s general counsel, Marc Elias, said in an online post that while it had found no evidence of sabotage, the campaign felt “an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton”.
“We certainly understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton,” Elias wrote, “and it is a fundamental principle of our democracy to ensure that every vote is properly counted.”
In response, President-elect Donald Trump said in a statement: “The people have spoken and the election is over, and as Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, ‘We must accept this result and then look to the future.’”
Wisconsin began recount proceedings late on Friday after receiving a petition from Jill Stein, the Green party candidate. Stein claims there are irregularities in results reported by Wisconsin as well as Michigan and Pennsylvania, where she plans to request recounts next week, having raised millions of dollars from supporters.
Trump called Stein’s effort a “scam” and said it was “just a way … to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount”.
“The results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused,” he added, “which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing.”
A spokeswoman for Stein did not respond to a request for comment. Speaking to CNN, however, Stein said she had “no contact with the Clinton campaign” and added: “I have said consistently that if there are questions about the accuracy and security I would challenge it, no matter who was the winner.”
Asked what the recount would do for her or for the Green party, Stein said: “We want to know what our vote is, and that our votes are being counted. This is not a partisan effort but we need to have confidence, too.
“When evidence emerged the system was being hacked all over the place, my conviction only strengthened that this was something we have to do.”
She did not discuss any such evidence for her claims. Earlier in the afternoon, she had used Twitter to say: “Election integrity cannot be led by a party w/o integrity, just as a revolution cannot happen in a counterrevolutionary party.”
Trump narrowly defeated Clinton in all three states on his way to national victory, surprising pollsters. Because Trump’s win followed warnings from US intelligence that Russia was trying to interfere with the election, thousands of people who opposed Trump now claim he could have had foreign assistance.
In its first public remarks about the election’s security, the Obama administration said it “did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber-activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day”.
A senior administration official told the Guardian: “We believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”
Stein’s petition to Wisconsin, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian, focused on concerns that foreign actors might have copied the state’s voter registration database and then filed bogus absentee ballots. No direct evidence supporting this claim was cited.
In requesting the recounts, Stein is acting on behalf of a loose coalition of academics and election experts. Her Wisconsin petition features an affidavit by J Alex Halderman, the director of Michigan University’s Center for Computer Security and Society, who has for years detailed vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines used in the US.
One of the leaders of the coalition, John Bonifaz, founder of the National Voting Rights Institute, expressed frustration that critics were accusing Stein of exploiting disappointment over the election result to collect money and gather contact details from liberal activists.
“This was all driven by the nonpartisan election integrity community,” said Bonifaz, a constitutional attorney, in his first interview about the recount effort. “I’m the one who asked Jill Stein to file these petitions.”
Bonifaz also defended Stein’s decision to increase her fundraising target from its original $2.5m, which led to more criticism. Bonifaz said the coalition had retained the New York law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, which has extensive experience in election disputes and had advised them to budget $7m for the effort.
“This is going to be a very costly campaign,” said Bonifaz, adding that the average contribution from the tens of thousands of supporters who had donated was about $42. “But it is something that a lot of people clearly want.”
By Saturday afternoon, the online fundraising effort had reached $5.8m.
In addition to lawyers’ fees and state filing fees, the group is anticipating that litigation will be needed against opposition to recounts. Michigan’s election rules allow a candidate to oppose a request from another for a recount, but it is unclear whether the Trump campaign would decide to take advantage of this.
The coalition had approached the Clinton campaign but received no official response, according to Bonifaz.
In his online posting,Elias said: “Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves.
“But now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.”
Trump received 2m fewer votes than Clinton nationally, but won the presidency thanks to the electoral college. More than 7 million Americans voted for other candidates, including Stein and the Libertarian Gary Johnson.
In Wisconsin, Trump beat Clinton by 27,257 votes. Stein received 30,980 votes and Johnson 106,442.
Elias wrote: “If Jill Stein follows through as she has promised and pursues recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, we will take the same approach in those states as well.
“We do so fully aware that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states” – Michigan, where the Republican leads by 10,704 votes with the result expected to be certified on Monday – “well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.
“But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.”
What are the odds the results were hacked?
“Zero or close to zero,” said election law expert Edward Foley. “Do I think there was a problem with the count? No, I don’t see any reason to think that.”
Many other experts have also dismissed the claims.
Foley said the nature of the results was consistent across all the states and he questioned why hackers would only target those three states and not larger ones like Florida and North Carolina.
Michael Cornfield, an associate professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and Research, agreed. Citing the Wisconsin example, Cornfield said the hacking theorists are cherry-picking and over-interpreting coincidence or correlation without causation.
“There’s no anomaly here. And that’s what you look for when you suspect tampering.”