Emily Kowalik ’18
Assistant Opinions Editor
A month after Donald J. Trump won the election over Hillary Clinton, there are still efforts being made to re-examine the election results. In three key battleground states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, a recount effort has been launched by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
This week, Wisconsin begins the massive effort of reviewing almost three million ballots across the state’s 72 counties.
Michigan will most likely follow Wisconsin’s example within a week. There are also legal steps being taken in Pennsylvania to challenge the results of the election.
Will these recounts make a difference or is this merely a huge waste of money? Do the people contributing to Jill Stein’s efforts really believe her statement that “This has been a hack-riddled election?” Or are they supporting her recount demand as a stand for symbolic meaning? As of the week of Dec. 4, the recount effort had raised $6.7 million.
This recount is highly unlikely to yield a result so immense as to turn the tide of the election in the other direction or to uncover signs of vote-tampering or hacking by the Russian government, or any other party for that matter, as some have theorized. Tampering would have had to occur on an unheard of scale for these key states to flip over to Clinton, and there is no evidence that such fraud has occurred.
Trump leads by a weighty margin — in all there is a 100,000 vote difference. Previous recounts have never overcome such a large gap. A campaign lawyer for Clinton, Marc Elias, noted that those gaps would exceed “the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.” Not to mention, Clinton would have to be declared the winner in each of these states in order to reverse the Electoral College outcome.
However, the recount effort is not, as Trump and others who have spoken out against it have said, a “scam.” Some see the recent protests against Trump as president, including the campaign #NotMyPresident and this recount as measures which encourage a divided nation at a point when the nation needs to heal its divisions. I think it’s perfectly justifiable for people to feel angered by the results of the election and the right to research the possibility of fraud and vote-tampering is what separates America from non-democratic nations, but is this recount a fact-finding exercise or a protest against perceived injustice?
What is so ironic, or even nonsensical, about Trump’s criticism of the recount is his recent statement. Trump claims that he also won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” As is typical of Trump’s often outlandish statements, he has brought forth no evidence to support his claims. Despite alleging that there has been massive voter fraud occurring throughout the country, Trump still argues that it is pointless and childish to go through with a recount.
All told, this recount is unlikely to yield even the slightest change in results. Even though everyone has to admit this effort will be a far cry from the recount that threw the 2000 election into the air, many still feel it is important in order for any fears of widespread vote tampering to be put to rest. Even if this recount is decried as an effort to direct liberal anger toward a hopeless goal, it might ben worthwhile if it acts to restore faith in our election process and American democracy.