Traditionally in American history, the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in the electoral college is named the winner, the nation accepts the results and the country moves on.
But nothing about 2016 is traditional. Soon after Donald Trump's stunning election victory, a predictable chorus of voices began to question the results of the election. Reports that data scientists were urging Hillary Clinton to demand a recount in certain swing states began to take over a national narrative. It was suggested that because Mr. Trump performed 7% better in counties that use machines to count votes, there may have been tampering.
Hillary Clinton did not publicly comment on the reports at first, then it was announced that Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein had raised millions in the effort to lead a recount effort.
In a move that earned her ten-times more media coverage than her entire presidential run, Jill Stein began raising money for recounts in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. It's no coincidence that these states were all expected to turn blue for Hillary Clinton, but went for Trump instead.
But the path ahead for Jill Stein is narrow, uphill, rocky - -and may not even exist. Here's the outlook for each state:
Jill Stein successfully raised $3.5 million for a recount in Badger State. However, her plea to have them counted by hand was rejected by a judge. They will be recounted by machine in the coming weeks.
November 30th was the deadline to petition for a recount. Stein hired a former Democratic Party chairman, Mark Brewer, to petition for a recount. President-elect Trump is challenging the recount-by-hand, and a decision has not been made.
This state may never see a recount. Stein missed the November 21st deadline. She is still attempting to take legal action, but this motion has yet to go anywhere.
Stein's small window for recounts may not be the real story. The voter fraud accusations in the first place are pretty much impossible to prove. Charles Spies, a Washington D.C. based election lawyer told IJR adamantly that voter fraud at this level is unprecedented.
“There is no evidence that voting machines have been hacked, period. If they were hacked, that would then lead to an inquiry regarding what the purpose was and who it benefited, but we don’t even get to that point because there’s no evidence of a hack... And remember, the machines aren’t all linked together, so even if one machine was hacked, that doesn’t impact the other thousands of machines.”
He also spoke directly to Stein's efforts.
“Stein is doing this as a publicity stunt to raise money and build her list – no sane person thinks she has a chance of success.”
There's also the question of where all of this money will go if Stein doesn't get a recount in Michigan and Pennsylvania. She explained on her website:
“If we raise more than what’s needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform,” the new line on the website said.
But Spies may have a point — she's definitely getting some free publicity.
One thing is certain: 2016 is completely bananas.