Could Jill Stein's Recount Actually Work? Examining The Facts

Just when the world thought the U.S. elections were over and everyone could get back to ignoring politics and politicians, Jill Stein has opened a Pandora's box by asking for a vote recount.

Stein is requesting a recount in three states that Trump won by narrow margins in November's presidential election. The states Stein is pursuing are Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Trump won by about 22,000, 65,000, and 10,000 votes respectively. If Stein's recount bid were to successfully yield different results in all three states, Clinton would end up with 278 electoral votes to Trump's 260 − making Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States.

As part of Stein's recount effort, she has been fundraising with the goal of raising $7 million to cover all fees associated with the recount. The recount filing fees in each state add up to about $2.2 million, but there will surely be other fees such as attorneys and observers. Currently, she has passed $6.5 million and with the amount of press the recount effort has received, will likely reach her goal.

Stein's recount effort has clearly sparked interest, especially considering that she has raised almost twice as much money for the recount as she did during her entire campaign. Many Clinton supporters are wondering if she actually has a chance of not only convincing all three states to do a recount, but in that recount yielding different results in all three states. Here is a look at those chances.

Chances of recount happening in all three states

The first state Stein went after was Wisconsin. She has paid the fee and Wisconsin has agreed to do the recount, but not all counties will be doing it by hand. Stein attempted to sue in order to force a hand-recount, but her suit failed.
As for Pennsylvania, Stein still has to convince the state that a recount is even necessary. Pennsylvania's secretary of state has already stated that he has seen no evidence of voter irregularities. If Stein fails on a state level, she is also pursuing recounts at the precinct level as well, though with over 9,000 precincts in Pennsylvania, she will have to focus on just a few.

Stein's third state, Michigan, has the narrowest margins between Trump and Hillary. Michigan has already agreed to a hand recount and is expected to begin this weekend. However, Trump's legal team has already indicated it will file for a machine recount instead of the proposed hand recount.

All in all, it looks like this is a barrier Stein will be able to cross. She has raised the necessary funds, and the states seem willing to push forward with the recount.

Chances of different results

This is where things get dicey. In 2004, the Green Party succeeded in pushing a vote recount in Ohio. The net difference was less than 1,000 votes. One of the most controversial recounts in recent history, Florida, shaved off about 1,200 votes from Bush's lead. No recount has ever yielded different results to such a large scale.

Stein's big claim is that voting machines may have been hacked. Wisconsin officials disagree, claiming that there is no evidence of hacking. CNN put out a great article before the election explaining how complicated and virtually impossible it would be for hackers to change the outcome of a presidential election. Their primary reasoning is the decentralization of the voting process. Each local government operates their own voting process, so a mass tampering with voting machines would be incredibly complicated to pull off.

Voting machines are also not connected to the internet. That eliminates the possibility of a large-scale hacking such as those that have been in the news for large companies recently.

To be sure, the chances of the recount effort discovering mass hacking or voter fraud is quite small. Even if the discovery is made, the chances of overturning over 100,000 votes are even smaller.

Stein's motivations

Trump has accused Stein of using the recount as a fundraising ploy. Stein, for her part, claims all the money will be put towards the necessary fees, and none will go toward her party or future campaigns. Because she lost by a significant amount − meaning she barely obtained 1 percent of the vote − she has to pay to request a recount.

Update: Stein has dropped her recount bid in Pennsylvania, although some precincts are still proceeding with recounts.

Do you think Stein should continue to push for the recount?

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]