Donald Trump’s unlikely electoral-college victory in November set off a furor among his numerous adversaries. While most of those adversaries, including Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, agreed to support the Trump presidency, Green Party candidate Jill Stein rejected Trump immediately, and has campaigned in several states to launch recounts.
Donald Trump won three states by razor-thin margins. In Pennsylvania, he won by about 71,000 votes; in Wisconsin, by about 22,000; and in Michigan by some 10,000. Several organizations, including the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, claimed that there was a real possibility that the results in these three states were manipulated or hacked, enough so to potentially overturn the Trump electoral victory.
Prompted by the data, Stein has been fighting for a recount in the three states. According to her website she has raised millions in small donations to pay state filing and attorney fees.
Trump responded by calling the recount a "Green Party scam to raise money." Stein claimed in an interview with Cosmopolitan by pointing out that recount funds are in a separate account from Green Party campaign funds, and that in the case that there is surplus money, it will be either refunded to donors or used to "continue supporting election integrity efforts."
The Pennsylvania recount began in the two largest counties after several legal battles and hiccups. Some outlets, such as West Michigan’s Fox affiliate, have reported that Trump’s lead in the Keystone State shrank from 71,000 to 49,000. Other outlets, however, have cast doubt on that number, as it may be based on absentee ballots that were not counted on election night.
A jump of 22,000 votes is a significant amount, and seems doubtful when Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties make up nearly 22 percent of Pennsylvania’s population (the city of Pittsburgh is located in Allegheny) and current recount results are revealing just five additional votes for Clinton. The totals for Trump, Stein, and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson have remained the same.
Al Schmidt, City Commissioner of Philadelphia, interviewed by Billy Penn, insisted that Philadelphia’s "primitive" voting machines were not vulnerable to hacking, and the five votes missed for Clinton came from a scanner error, likely from ballots that had been filled out incorrectly.
Stein and Clinton (who later joined Stein in supporting the recount efforts) have repeatedly insinuated that the voting results may have been tampered with. Although neither has explicitly stated it, many have inferred that Russian hackers interfered with the results of the 2016 US Presidential election. Although the recounts are not complete, the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh recounts show no evidence of hacking.
Michigan’s recount is anticipated to be completed on December 12, according to Stein’s website. It is unclear if the Pennsylvania recount will continue, or if the Wisconsin recount will proceed.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that there is a recount of presidential election votes underway in Pennsylvania. This is incorrect. The governments of Philadelphia and Allegheny County have undergone their own independent recounts, but there is no statewide recount. A US District Judge has set a hearing for where he will decide if a statewide Pennsylvania recount will occur or not.