Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Welcome Back, My Friends, To the Election That Never Ends

Just when we thought we'd washed the smell of the 2016 presidential election off our persons, along comes a whole slew of recounts - along with Donald Trump's subsequent paranoia - to stink up America again.
New York magazine reported last week that election lawyers and computer scientists were encouraging Hillary Clinton to ask for a recount of the popular vote in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, all Rust Belt states that Trump officially won.  The lawyers and computer scientists claimed that there might be voter irregularities in the computerized ballot machines and presidential vote counts, as the tallies contradicted polls leading up to the November 8 vote.  Specifically, these experts were afraid that the electronic ballot boxes might have been hacked, though there's no evidence that such a thing happened anywhere; despite concerns of Russian hacking of the vote, the Obama administration is convinced that there was no foul play anywhere in the country, and that there has been no voter fraud.
The three states cited have a combined total of 46 electoral votes; Hillary is 38 electoral votes short of a majority.  She would have to reverse the results in all three states to win with a total of 278 electoral votes to 260; Trump could lose any two of these states to her in recounts and still win.  With all three states in his column, Trump has 306 electoral votes to Madame H's 232.  The Clinton campaign was prepared to let it go, citing the victory margins for Trump and saying that there most likely weren't enough votes that could be reversed and change the outcome. 
Then Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein decided to stir up some serious stuff.
Dr. Stein pushed for a recount in Wisconsin and raised millions of dollars over the Internet to pay for it; she was able to file for one just before the deadline, and so the Badger State is counting the votes all over again.  She is not only working on getting recounts done in Michigan, which just certified its vote totals, and Pennsylvania, but she is threatening to get recounts done in as many states as she can.  She certainly can do that; she's raised more money than she needs.  Hillary's campaign has sent lawyers to Wisconsin to oversee the recount and plans to do the same elsewhere should other recounts go forward. 
Now why would Dr, Stein instigate recounts that could theoretically help Hillary Clinton, whom Stein had repeatedly bashed throughout the campaign?  Well, it certainly isn't to help the Hillary become President instead of the Donald.  Dr. Stein doesn't think any of the results will change as a result of any of these recounts; her point is that, if even the possibility of hacking the vote is there,  then recounts should be done to prove once and for all that there was no hacking, otherwise we'll never know whether or not the vote was legitimate.
Needless to say, Trump and the GOP think this is a colossal waste of time, and Trump himself has made this clear in a series of tweets.  Trump has accused Dr. Stein of raising doubts about the election to raise more money for the Greens, even though Dr, Stein has stated that the money she's collected - $6.5 million - is specifically earmarked for helping to pay for recounts.  Maybe Trump should do what Hillary is doing and send lawyers to the recounting - a recounting, remember, that Hillary never asked for - to show his support for making sure the vote was fair and square.
Astonishingly, Trump has not only dismissed the recounts, he's also opined - without any evidence whatsoever - that he should have won the popular vote (Hillary is ahead by over two million popular votes) because too many people voted illegally.  This does not make a ton of sense, considering that Trump obviously doesn't need the popular vote, having won the Presidency in the Electoral College . . . unless you consider the possibility that he's seeking a popular mandate from an electorate in which 53 percent of voters cast ballots against him.
Dr. Stein may likely emerge as the heroine of the 2016 election.  She's raised more money for recounts than she did for her entire presidential campaign, and she's cast light on the need for the United States to ensure free and fair elections. If she raises more money than necessary, she will dedicate the surplus funds toward election integrity efforts and to the promotion of voting reform, so she's hardly doing to this to help Hillary.  She's actually doing this to help the Greens by garnering favorable publicity for their progressive causes.  Recounts in more states may even get the Greens enough votes to have five percent of the vote nationwide and thus qualify for federal matching funds and automatic inclusion on state ballots in 2020.  It also undermines an already unpopular Trump as he prepares to take office.
And as if that weren't enough, Hillary supporters, who ironically mocked Trump for threatening not to accept the results of the election if he lost, are now urging 38 of Trump's electors to switch their votes to Hillary and make her President instead.  The electors, by the way, don't vote until December 19, and the ballots aren't even counted until January 6.  (If Trump should somehow lose 38 electoral votes to Hillary, then the transition to the next administration will suddenly be very bumpy and very interesting.)  
In the meantime, the recounts are just one more thing to get through.  And when the computer experts who count the votes are finished doing that . . . maybe they can come over to my house and do something about my Internet connection periodically going out.  

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