Money thrown at hopeless recount

Counting money never made anyone rich.

Recounting votes never made anyone president.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has raised more for the recount effort than she did for her presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim, File)

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has raised more for the recount effort than she did for her presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim, File)

Yet, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who has no chance of winning anything, is raising millions for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and possibly other states.

Is it a waste of time and money?

Any election this important deserves some sort of routine audit, but it seems mathematically impossible to overturn the results no matter how much money is thrown at it.

Recounts are as much a part of the political landscape as ugly yard signs but usually they are conducted after close elections.

Was this one close?

Marc Elias, general counsel for the Hillary Clinton campaign, says “the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.”

He’s right.

The biggest vote swing in any presidential election recount occurred in Florida in the 2000 race for president. Thanks to infamous “hanging chads” Democrat Al Gore was awarded another 1,247 votes, but still lost the critical state by 537 votes to Republican George W. Bush.

The average statewide recount, according to data from FairVote, a nonpartisan group that researches elections, yields a mere 282 votes.

In Georgia, election officials say they can’t recall a statewide recount overturning an election. In 2014, Republican candidate for Georgia schools superintendent Mike Buck asked for a recount after losing in the primary to Richard Woods by only 713 votes. After a recount he lost by 700 votes.

Ironically, Trump might be the one asking for a recount if Stein had sat this election out. It’s likely the vast majority of the 50,000 votes she got in Michigan would have gone to Clinton and overcome Trump’s slim lead of 10,000. In Wisconsin, Clinton lost by 27,000 votes and Stein received 31,000 votes.

The results in all three states would have to be overturned for Clinton to become president. That’s not going to happen. Trump won Pennsylvania by more than 70,000 votes and the state says the deadline for a recount has already passed. 

Stein suggests hackers affected the election. “When evidence emerged the system was being hacked all over the place, my conviction only strengthened that this was something we have to do,” she said in the Guardian.

Yet, a traditional recount wouldn’t discover hacking efforts, experts say, and the Department of Homeland Security says there is no evidence vote hacking happened anywhere.

Stein says she’s raised at least $6.5 million for recounts, which is $3 million more than donors contributed to her campaign.

Why are people contributing so much cash to an effort that seems less likely to pay off than a Powerball ticket?

Politicians, even those that get just 1 percent of the vote, love staying in the spotlight as much as they love counting your money.


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