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Green Party Raises More Than $5 Million In Election Recount Effort


Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate, has filed a recount petition in Wisconsin. She says she's also seeking recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Stein says this is necessary to ensure the integrity of the election, though there has been no concrete evidence of any hacking or vote rigging in those states. In just a few days, the Green Party says it has raised more than $5 million toward the effort. Earlier today, I talked about this with Shane Harris of The Daily Beast and asked him where the concerns about possible hacking are coming from.

SHANE HARRIS: Well, earlier this week, there was a report in New York magazine that a group of computer scientists had been looking at the very thin margins of victory for Donald Trump in those three states that you mentioned and were wondering whether or not the election could have been swayed by hacking - and reportedly had been talking to the Clinton campaign and suggesting that they might want to call for a recount in those three states as a way of determining whether or not the votes were accurately counted.

SHAPIRO: Is there any evidence that the voting in these counties was different from the voting in other counties and states around the country?

HARRIS: Well, there's no evidence, first, that there was any hacking. We should say that. But what you actually see when you dive into the data, a lot of experts are saying, is a pattern that fits with Donald Trump actually flipping voters who went for Obama in 2008 and 2012, doing very well among white working-class voters. Nothing that would indicate manipulation from the outside, but rather a actual political upset, which is of course what happened. So nothing that we've seen so far suggests that Donald Trump was the beneficiary of someone literally manipulating vote tabulations or changing the intention of people's votes from Clinton to Trump. There's just no evidence of that. Rather, he just seems to have pulled off one of the great political upsets.

SHAPIRO: If these recounts happen, is there any real chance that they would affect the outcome of the election?

HARRIS: I don't think so, no, (laughter) because what would have to happen, first of all, is Clinton would have to win in all three of those states that we mentioned - Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. She'd have to flip them all into her column to get the necessary 270 electoral votes. It's also not even clear that these states will allow a recount if someone from the Green Party or anyone else petitioned. You have to, in some states, persuade a judge or persuade county officials that there's a reason for this recount to go forward. And if the reason is going to be the possibility that maybe somebody hacked the election, I'm not sure that's going to be good enough to convince a judge or local officials to actually do a manual recount.

SHAPIRO: If we imagine a world in which the systems were hacked, would a recount necessarily detect that?

HARRIS: Not necessarily - you would have to go in and actually look at the equipment itself in some cases, like in Pennsylvania where the electronic voting machines actually do not print out a paper record, so you have nothing to compare it to. So if you just go back and query the machine that's been hacked and say, tell me what the vote tabulations were, how could you trust that? Now, if you have actual paper records and can compare that to a voting machine or if you have what's called the optical scan machines where you could go back and recount those, then you might actually start to see a deviation. But there's no guarantee that you would do it unless you really knew what to look for and made a deliberate attempt to see if there was evidence of some kind of tampering at the computer level.

SHAPIRO: Some people might also be scratching their heads that this effort is being led by Jill Stein of the Green Party rather than by Hillary Clinton, who, if anyone, would seem more likely to benefit from this.

HARRIS: Right, and so this is a big question of why does Jill Stein want to do this? She has said on her website that she believes there could be vote tampering based on previous evidence of hacking of the DNC and other political organizations, which was real. And that's been documented by the U.S. intelligence community and...

SHAPIRO: Previous hacking is real, not necessarily vote tampering.

HARRIS: That's correct. There's no evidence of vote tampering. And we should say the hacking that went on at the DNC was - that was about stealing emails and giving them to WikiLeaks. Here, we're talking about what would have to have been, if these three states were actually hacked, a highly coordinated, sophisticated account with people on the ground working for weeks in advance. I mean, we're really talking about something like out of an "Ocean's Eleven" movie here. This is a highly sophisticated operation you'd have to do.

It is not impossible. It's implausible. I think the reason that Hillary Clinton's not coming out and calling for it is she spent a lot of time on the campaign trail saying Donald Trump was being paranoid by saying that the election was rigged, that the only way that he would lose if it was rigged. If she were to come out and say it now - I think maybe the election was hacked - with no evidence - she starts to sound like Donald Trump did a few weeks ago.

SHAPIRO: Shane Harris of The Daily Beast, thanks for joining us.

HARRIS: You bet, thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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