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Jill Stein on Stateside: Even if recount ends, the fight for elections we can trust does not

Dec 8, 2016

On Nov. 30, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein requested a recount of votes in Michigan. That request was the beginning of a frantic week of legal battles as county clerks rallied staff and resources to undertake the recount.

But now the statewide recount appears to be over after the ruling that came from Federal Judge Mark Goldsmith last night. He lifted the restraining order that triggered Monday’s start to the recount. The Board of State Canvassers then canceled its meeting earlier today.

Though the recount effort seems to have reached its limit, Stein said not yet.

“We have filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court asking that the citizens of the State of Michigan be entitled to verify their vote, and to know that this is an election that we can have confidence in, and that it was fair, accurate and just,” she said.

"What has come out of these recounts before is not a change in the election result, but actually the creation of a movement for voting integrity and for ensuring that we have an accurate, secure and just vote."

But if the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling isn’t favorable to the recount effort, Stein said she would not appeal. An unfavorable ruling, therefore, would officially end the recount.

“It ends the recount, however it does not end the fight for elections that we can trust,” Stein said. “And in many ways, the effort, the extraordinary efforts, on the part of the cronies of Donald Trump – his PAC, the Republican Party, the Attorney General – there was an all-out mobilization here to block the right of citizens to have a vote that we can have confidence in. We are entitled to a recount process. And that process was obstructed at every turn, and I think it leaves people feeling very disturbed.”

Still, she said important information surfaced during the course of the recount effort. 

Racial injustice in Michigan’s election system

Eighty-seven optical scanners in Detroit failed. Stein said that showed “that there is a de facto Jim Crow-type election system going on here, where people of color are at a vastly increased risk of having their vote miscounted, discounted or tossed into the trash heap.”

She said in African-American communities, odds that votes won’t be counted increase by about 900% in comparison with Caucasian communities. She said that’s according to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

“That’s not fair and that is what came to light, just by discovering the massive failure of the optical scanners,” Stein said.

Many of the precincts in Michigan labeled “un-recountable” are in neighborhoods dominated by African Americans.

“Which says that people of color are not entitled to the same kind of verification, transparency and assurances that other Americans are entitled to,” she said. “So, in the process of doing the recount, we discovered that there is a grave and serious need here to do that recount and to scrutinize this vote and to ensure, among other things, that there hasn’t been really substantial failure.”

Hacking concerns

The limited recount raised questions for many about Michigan’s election law. For example, if a number is transposed or if numbers don’t match up, the law says you can’t recount that precinct. It doesn’t account for human error. So what about hacking?

Stein said throughout the limited recount process, no proof of hacking was discovered.

“The thing about hacking and tampering is that it is invisible unless you actually count the ballots and examine them,” Stein said. “And it is also invisible in the electronic machines unless you examine them with a forensic study of exactly how they’ve been programmed. So, you know, there is no evidence, but the absence of proof is not the proof of absence.”

For our full conversation with Jill Stein, listen above. It includes Stein’s take on whether or not the recount effort supported the GOP’s fight for stricter voting laws and how increased participation from Democrats could have influenced the recount effort.

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