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    24 Nov 2016

    Jill Stein prepares to request election recounts in battleground states

    Jill Stein, the Green party’s presidential candidate, is prepared to request recounts of the election result in several key battleground states, her campaign said on Wednesday.
    Stein launched an online fundraising page seeking donations toward a multimillion-dollar fund she said was needed to request reviews of the results in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
    Before midnight EST on Wednesday, the drive had already raised more than the $2m necessary to file for a recount in Wisconsin, where the deadline to challenge is on Friday. The campaign had reached $2.5m by 5am EST
    Stein said she was acting due to “compelling evidence of voting anomalies” and that data analysis had indicated “significant discrepancies in vote totals” that were released by state authorities. 
    “These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified,” she said in a statement. “We deserve elections we can trust.”
    The fundraising page said it expected to need around $6m-7m to challenge the results in all three states.
    Stein’s move came amid growing calls for recounts or audits of the election results by groups of academics and activists concerned that foreign hackers may have interfered with election systems. The concerned groups have been urging Hillary Clinton, the defeated Democratic nominee, to join their cause.
    Donald Trump won unexpected and narrow victories against Clinton in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin earlier this month and may yet win Michigan, where a final result has not yet been declared. 
    Stein and her campaign made clear they were acting because they wanted to ensure the election results were authentic, rather than because they thought she had actually won any of the contests. Several states allow any candidate who was on the ballot to request a recount.
    She and those seeking recounts will need to move swiftly. This Friday is the deadline for requesting a recount in Wisconsin, where Trump’s winning margin stands at 0.7%. In Pennsylvania, where his margin is 1.2%, the deadline falls on Monday. In Michigan, where the Trump lead is currently just 0.3%, the deadline is Wednesday 30 November.
    The Guardian previously disclosed that a loose coalition of academics and activists concerned about the election’s security is preparing to deliver a report detailing its concerns to congressional committee chairs and federal authorities early next week, according to two people involved.
    “I’m interested in verifying the vote,” said Dr Barbara Simons, an adviser to the US election assistance commission and expert on electronic voting. “We need to have post-election ballot audits.” Simons is understood to have contributed analysis to the effort but declined to characterise the precise nature of her involvement.
    A second group of analysts, led by the National Voting Rights Institute founder John Bonifaz and Professor Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan’s center for computer security and society, is also taking part in the push for a review.
    In a blogpost earlier on Wednesday, Halderman said paper ballots and voting equipment should be examined in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. “Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts,” he said.
    Clinton’s defeat to Donald Trump followed the release by US intelligence agencies of public assessments that Russian hackers were behind intrusions into regional electoral computer systems and the theft of emails from Democratic officials before the election.
    Curiosity about Wisconsin has centred on apparently disproportionate wins that were racked up by Trump in counties using electronic voting compared with those that used only paper ballots.
    Use of the voting machines that are in operation in some Wisconsin counties has been banned in other states, including California, after security analysts repeatedly showed how easily they could be hacked into.
    However, Nate Silver, the polling expert and founder of FiveThirtyEight, cast doubt over the theory, stating that the difference disappeared after race and education levels, which most closely tracked voting shifts nationwide, were controlled for.
    Silver and several other election analysts have dismissed suggestions that the swing-state vote counts give cause for concern about the integrity of the results.
    Still, dozens of professors specialising in cybersecurity, defense and elections have in the past two days signed an open letter to congressional leaders stating that they are “deeply troubled” by previous reports of foreign interference, and requesting swift action by lawmakers.
    “Our country needs a thorough, public congressional investigation into the role that foreign powers played in the months leading up to November,” the academics said in their letter, while noting they did not mean to “question the outcome” of the election itself.
    Senior legislators including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland have already called for deeper inquiries into the full extent of Russia’s interference with the election campaign.
    Wednesday’s announcement by Stein, who had previously been hesitant to get involved, also shields Democratic operatives and people who worked on Clinton’s bid for the White House from needing to overtly challenge the election.
    Some senior Democrats are known to be reluctant to suggest there were irregularities in the result because Clinton and her team criticised Trump so sharply during the campaign for claiming that the election would be “rigged” against him.
    But others have spoken publicly, including the sister of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s closest aide. “A shift of just 55,000 Trump votes to Hillary in PA, MI & WI is all that is needed to win,” Heba Abedin said on Facebook, urging people to call the US justice department to request an audit.
    Alexandra Chalupa, a former Democratic National Committee consultant who during the campaign investigated links between Moscow and Trump’s then campaign manager Paul Manafort, is also participating in the attempt to secure recounts or audits.
    “The person who received the most votes free from interference or tampering needs to be in the White House,” said Chalupa. “It may well be Donald Trump, but further due diligence is required to ensure that American democracy is not threatened.”
    In a joint statement issued last month, the office of the director of national intelligence and the Department for Homeland Security said they were “confident” that the theft of emails from the DNC and from Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, which were published by WikiLeaks, was directed by the Russian government.
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