It’s a Scam: Recount Defies White House, Clinton Facts

The White House sees no reason why Wisconsin or any other state should have a recount. But that isn’t stopping Jill Stein (who also tweeted her affection for dead Cuban despots) and Clinton’s campaign from pursuing one. It’s a terrible precedent to go after recounts simply because the race is close, and it’s very bad for democracy.

“We stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people,” a senior administration official told POLITICO late Friday.

“The federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day,” the official added. “We believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”

Armed with no evidence and only a tenuous and easily dismissed conspiracy theory worthy of Infowars or any other right wing “fake news” site, Stein is joined by the Clinton campaign in this nutty windmill tilting expedition, which will have zero effect on the election results.

In a Medium post, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias said that the campaign had received “hundreds of messages, emails, and calls urging us to do something, anything, to investigate claims that the election results were hacked and altered in a way to disadvantage Secretary Clinton,” especially in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where the “combined margin of victory for Donald Trump was merely 107,000 votes.”

President-elect Trump called it a “scam” which set the media into a thumb-sucking tizzy.

Bernie Sanders piped up with a really stupid comment: “No one expects there to be profound change, but there’s nothing wrong with going through the process.”

Oh, but there is everything wrong with going through the process.

It’s a useless exercise

A simple recount will do nothing but possibly find a few votes here and there–or even a thousand–moved from the Trump column to the Clinton column. In a statewide recount, there will always be errors found, but statistically, it won’t change anything.

Recounts typically don’t swing enough votes to change the winner. Out of 4,687 statewide general elections between 2000 and 2015, just 27 were followed by recounts, according to data compiled by FairVote, a nonpartisan group that researches elections and promotes electoral reform. Just three of those 27 recounts resulted in a change in the outcome, all leading to wins for Democrats: Al Franken’s win in Minnesota’s 2008 U.S. Senate race, Thomas M. Salmon’s win in Vermont’s 2006 auditor election and Christine Gregoire’s win in Washington’s 2004 gubernatorial race.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte lost by 716 votes; just 0.09 percent in a race where $100 million was spent. That’s $139,664 per vote. She could have requested a recount in any precinct in which she lost by less than 20 percent–out of the state’s 300 precincts, that’s practically all of them. She might have even found 717 votes and changed the result. But there’s a strong tradition in the Granite State to accept the results and move on.

New Hampshire has the largest state legislative body in the nation, with 400 seats (1 per 3,300 residents). It also has a very low bar for recounts. Imagine the chaos and cost if every race that could have a recount, the loser requested it. It’s bad for democracy to blindly challenge results.

The costs are far beyond dollars and cents

Every county in Wisconsin has to convene a board of canvassers to recount the votes. It costs time and money to do this. And they are doing it only to appease the Green Party, that has no conceivable chance of winning anything. This is a terrible precedent.

Don’t think future elections won’t have more of this stupid, blind witch-hunting. Of course it will happen again. And then there will be calls to enact legislation raising the bar for recounts. That will lead to federal and state courts getting involved because the bar might be too high for a legitimate problem. Then elections will be hung up in court. So much for speedy and peaceful transitions.

The Democrats are hunting for their own version of the Bush-Gore 2000 imbroglio. They’d love to keep the conspiracy brewing for years so they can use it for the next election cycle.

This all costs money. Not just the county election officials in Wisconsin, but lawyers, judges, and party officials who have to deal with the continuing march towards litigated election results. Again, it’s bad for democracy.

It’s a scam

There is no evidence of wrongdoing, hacking, or even anomalies, other than a statistical claim that Clinton “received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.” Statistics writers Carl Bialik and Rob Arthur at FiveThirtyEight debunked that claim.

We found no apparent correlation5 between voting method and outcome in six of the eight states, and a thin possible link between voting method and results in Wisconsin and Texas. However, the two states showed opposite results: The use of any machine voting in a county was associated with a 5.6-percentage-point reduction in Democratic two-party vote share in Wisconsin but a 2.7-point increase in Texas, both of which were statistically significant.6 Even if we focus only on Wisconsin, the effect disappears when we weight our results by population. More than 75 percent of Wisconsin’s population lives in the 23 most populous counties, which don’t appear to show any evidence for an effect driven by voting systems.7 To have effectively manipulated the statewide vote total, hackers probably would have needed to target some of these larger counties. When we included all counties but weighted the regression by the number of people living in each county, the statistical significance of the opposite effects in Wisconsin and Texas both evaporated.8

Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias acknowledged that they’re only joining the recount effort to appease their own supporters, who refuse to accept the outcome of a President Trump. This is nothing but a show.

Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides. If Jill Stein follows through as she has promised and pursues recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, we will take the same approach in those states as well. We do so fully aware that 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.

If it was impossible for Clinton’s campaign to rig the election when Trump floated the tinfoil-hat theory, it’s twice as impossible for Trump to rig it. But they are not doing this because of evidence, or any chance of changing the outcome. The best that Clinton’s team can hope for is that Wisconsin doesn’t complete their recount by a mid-December deadline and their electors don’t get to vote on December 19. That would be nothing but an embarrassment for Wisconsin and a black eye for the integrity of American elections.

Stein has raised nearly $4 million for this recount effort, a staggering sum to collect for a decided election. The Green Party has a history of calling election results into question to raise cash.

The Green Party has done this before, to little result. In 2004, when many Democrats asked whether Ohio had been lost to voter suppression, the Green Party teamed up with the Libertarian Party to pay for a recount. David Cobb, the then-presidential candidate for the Green Party, had not even appeared on Ohio’s ballot, but he helped raise $150,000 to start the recount process. “Due to widespread reports of irregularities in the Ohio voting process,” said Cobb and Michael Badnarik, the then-presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, “we are compelled to demand a recount of the Ohio presidential vote. Voting is the heart of the democratic process in which we as a nation put our faith.”

The result: Democrat John F. Kerry gained a bit less than 300 votes on George W. Bush, making virtually no difference in the margin.

If this isn’t a scam, then the word loses all meaning.

It encourages rigging

The Quixotic recount effort has the opposite effect from its intended purpose, which is supposedly to ensure that no irregularities exist, by falsely claiming irregularities and conducting a fishing expedition to find them.

That approach actually encourages irregularities, because if recounts become the norm, it helps the losing side to find irregularities, even if they don’t change the outcome. The more irregularities, the more recounts, and just possibly, an election could be hung up in court, or nullified and ordered to be held again. This isn’t the conspiracy-theory stuff Zerohedge was throwing out in September (they called it “Plan B“), but it’s a slow eroding of confidence in the sacrosanct presidential election process.

Any investigation which proceeds out of an evidence-free popular call to “do something” is damaging to the rule of law and democratic principles. The worst possible example of this is the recount effort in a presidential election.

But watch the press and liberals keep this story on the front pages long after it should be dead. It should never have even seen the light of day. Trump was right. It’s a scam.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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