Presidential Campaign

Why is Jill Stein challenging election results?

Greg Nash

“Don’t moan – organize!”

That has been the mantra of Jill Stein and the Green Party since the election of Donald J. Trump.

Their mantra has seemed to be aimed at democrats who have spent the last two weeks pointing fingers at their core constituencies and blaming them for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the general election.

{mosads}Instead of bemoaning the fact that she polled only one percent of the national vote and that on December 19, the Electoral College will certify Trump as the next president of the U. S., Stein on Wednesday launched a campaign to raise several million dollars to challenge the election results in three states: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. In less than 24 hours, Stein raised $2.2 million of the $2.5 million needed to file a challenge in Michigan on Black Friday, the deadline set by Michigan law for filing election challenges.


Surely, if the electronic voting machines had any anomalies they would not measure enough to change the outcome of Stein’s position in these three states.

So, why even do it?

David Cobb, Stein’s campaign manager says, “It is about securing confidence in our election system. This challenge is not about changing the election result, but about securing a process that ensures that every votes actually counts for the candidate that each voter intended to receive that vote.”

Cobb, a lawyer by trade, was the 2004 Green Party candidate for President. Following that election he successfully challenged the DRE electronic voting machines used in Ohio and in the process caused an election official to go to jail. The state of California also banned the DRE machines following Cobb’s challenge of election results that year.

His efforts launched an election integrity movement across the country. Cobb hopes the 2016 recount in these three states will lead to “greater confidence in our election process.”

“It’s been proven that hacking occurred during this election cycle,” Cobb said, alluding to cyber attacks on the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, the Democratic National Committee and several state election computers.

“We do not have any knowledge that a hack took place, but if it can be done, we want to investigate it to see if it was done and if the systems in these states were hacked, to what extent did they alter the results in these states,” Cobb told The Hill by telephone.

He cited J. Alex Halderman University of Michigan professor of Computer Science and Engineering for the possibility hacks in voting machines can occur.

In a blog post defending his call for a Michigan recount, Halderman wrote:

“We’ve been pointing out for years that voting machines are computers, and they have reprogrammable software, so if attackers can modify that software by infecting the machines with malware, they can cause the machines to give any answer whatsoever. I’ve demonstrated this in the laboratory with real voting machines — in just a few seconds, anyone can install vote-stealing malware on those machines that silently alters the electronic records of every vote.”

Halderman, who also serves as Director of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society, argues for paper ballots as a hacker-proof method to ensure the integrity of the voting process.

Cobb believes the recounts are important if they provide proof that the country should move away from the electronic ballot and back to the tried and tested paper ballot that was used in the very first presidential election. He believes it will take somewhere between $6-7 million to fund each stage of the recount process in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“Our average donation is $100.00. There is a lot of interest out there for safeguarding the integrity of the process,” Cobb said.

According to media reports, Halderman and other cyber-security experts have encouraged Hillary Clinton to demand a recount in these states as well. Thus far, the Clinton campaign has not indicated that they have any interest in filing a challenge to the election results in these states.

Perhaps, Clinton will not contest election results for the same reason that former Vice President Al Gore decided not to appeal the Supreme Court ruling which essentially awarded the 2000 election to his rival George W. Bush: the fact that a protracted struggle over the office of the presidency would erode public confidence in the institution of American democracy.

But for Stein and the Green Party, spending several million dollars is not about eroding public confidence in the presidential election; it is about igniting a public discussion on the necessity of the paper ballot as a means to secure integrity in the election process.

Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Al Gore Donald Trump Election Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton Jill Stein Michigan presidential election swing states Wisconsin
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