Green Party ends bid for presidential election recount in Michigan and Pennsylvania

By Niles Niemuth
14 December 2016

The Green Party ended its bid Tuesday for a recount of the presidential election results in Michigan and Pennsylvania, two of the states that ensured Trump’s victory in the Electoral College.

Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, announced the end of the recount campaign at a press conference on Tuesday. “We do not have a voting system we can trust, and the recount was essentially stopped in its tracks,” Stein told reporters.

The only successful recount effort pursued by the Greens occurred in Wisconsin, ending after 10 days on Monday with an official certification of Republican Donald Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, adding 131 net votes to his total.

The end of the Greens’ recount efforts came after a ruling by a federal judge in Pennsylvania on Monday blocked both a recount and a request for an examination of the state’s voting machines for possible hacking.

Federal District Judge Paul Diamond ruled that it would be impossible for a recount to be completed given that Tuesday was the deadline for certifying the state’s electoral votes. Diamond also rejected the contention that the election may have been hacked, saying that such a notion would “border on the irrational.”

On Friday, a recount of the vote in Michigan was blocked from going forward by the state Supreme Court after only three days of counting. The court ruled in a 3-2 decision that upheld a Michigan Court of Appeals decision that Stein had no standing as an aggrieved party.

Earlier, Federal District Judge Mark Goldsmith had ruled in support of the ruling by the state appeals court that Stein had no standing to request a recount since she had no chance of benefiting, having won little more than 1 percent of the vote and trailed Trump by more than 2 million votes in the state.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who did have standing as an “aggrieved party,” having lost the state of Michigan to Trump by only 10,704 votes, could have joined the case and ensured a complete recount of the vote but decided against intervening.

While the three days of ballot counting in Michigan did not result in any change in the official vote tally, the limited canvassing that occurred exposed a dysfunctional and archaic state electoral system that produced numerous irregularities.

The ballots in 322 precincts across the state were unable to be recounted because of a mismatch between the number of ballots recorded and the number of voters logged in poll books. State law only allows for ballots to be recounted if the number of votes cast matches the number of voters recorded in the poll book. In one instance, a review of voting precinct 152 in the city of Detroit found only 52 ballots in the ballot container while 307 voters had been logged in the official poll book.

As a result of the findings of widespread abnormalities, the Michigan Bureau of Elections has announced an audit of 20 precincts in the city of Detroit that could not be recounted to determine the source of the widespread errors.

“We don’t have any suspicion of fraud. We generally approach this as human error,” Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to take a look at them to make sure there’s not a need for further explanations. And we’ll be talking with Detroit staff as well going forward.”

The recount efforts and available voting data indicate that Trump won the election not because of hacking or voter fraud, let alone a surge in support from “white workers,” but because of a collapse in support from broad sections of the working class for Clinton.

In the once heavily industrialized Rust Belt states of Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Clinton lost 1.17 million voters who earned less than $50,000 a year compared to Obama’s results in 2012. Trump only picked up 334,000 voters in these states in the same income bracket. Clinton lost nearly 1 million votes from whites in these five states, while Trump picked up fewer than 500,000.