Donald Trump says Jill Stein’s campaign to recount the presidential votes is a scam. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is cooperating — but apprehensively. Others have called Stein a fraud, while her supporters say a recount is necessary and contend a cyberattack impacting the final outcome of the election could have happened.
Here are the facts: Green Party candidate Jill Stein wants to recount the votes in Pennsylvania — where Trump won by about 70,000 — as well as in Michigan and Wisconsin. She raised millions of dollars to do so just after a group of computer scientists, according to New York Magazine, urged Clinton’s campaign to ask for a recount based on concerns of a cyberattack that could have tampered with the outcome of the election.
There is no evidence suggesting such an attack occurred, and one data analyst who was part of the group in contact with the Clinton campaign wrote a Medium post saying “I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked.” Here is what experts, pundits and the like are saying about Stein’s recount efforts:
Donald Trump and the PA GOP: This is ridiculous
You’ve probably heard about the PEOTUS slamming Stein’s recount. He released a statement, calling the effort “ridiculous.”
“This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than one percent of the vote overall and wasn’t even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount,” he said in the statement.
The Pennsylvania Republican party piled on, releasing a lengthy statement pointing out that Republican registration increased in the lead-up to the election and that the PA Secretary of State has certified that Pennsylvania’s election systems are secure.
“After mocking Republicans’ open and transparent push for election integrity, it’s sad to see a major candidate such as Hillary Clinton plunge our electoral system into an unnecessary controversy just because she didn’t win,” PA GOP chairman Rob Gleason wrote in the statement.
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver: Let’s do the recount
Data analyst and journalist Nate Silver, who runs the site FiveThirtyEight that made its name predicting elections, doesn’t believe a recount will change anything, but wrote in a column that he’s in favor of anything that will audit the elections process in the United States. Here’s what he wrote:
The audit will kick up a lot of dust, but it’s unlikely that there will be anything there, and even harder to prove anything. Trump is a masterful troll, and trolls — and aspiring authoritarians — can thrive in environments where there’s a lot of confusing information. It’s also worth noting that Stein’s motivations for financing the recounts are ambiguous and she might be prone toward making sensational claims. People’s BS detectors ought to be set to extra high, even as compared to their already-high 2016 levels.
However, he added this:
An audit very probably won’t detect a conspiracy, but it will reveal information about our voting systems. FiveThirtyEight and most other American news organizations are founded on the premise that more information is better, even if it risks being misinterpreted.
The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson: The Recount Road to Nowhere
New Yorker columnist Amy Davidson wrote Monday that Stein’s behavior is “frustrating,” though she excoriated Trump for taking to Twitter to falsely claim that he won the election because “millions of people” voted illegally. She wrote that a recount is giving Trump what he wanted to begin with:
The sole item it may deliver is the one thing the country had been spared with Trump’s victory: a corrosive, conspiracy-minded, and slanderous attack on the integrity of our voting system. This is a critical period in which the shape of Trump’s Administration will be formed, one that presents all sorts of tasks and challenges for his opponents. Democrats have better things to do.
Former Obama advisor: What are we even doing?
Former senior advisor to President Obama Dan Pfeiffer weighed in on Twitter, seeming to agree with Davidson that his party has better things to do than recount the votes from an election that’s over.
(He’s referring to the Louisiana Senate race that’s headed for a runoff.)
David Axelrod: This is cathartic, but probably worthless
Former Obama aide David Axelrod took a stance a little less hard than Pfeiffer’s. He tweeted that a recount could be “cathartic,” but that he can’t see anything changing. The margins are high, he notes. (Yes, they are. Overturning Pennsylvania at this point is almost impossible.)
Trump surrogate: Stein is a ‘loser’
Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke was one of Trump’s most loyal surrogates. He also met with Trump this week at Trump Tower in New York and is seen as a possible pick to be Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security. He called Stein an “attention seeking loser.”
Annoyed Democrats: Yep, this is a waste of time
Democratic strategist Joe Trippi worked as a campaign manager for Howard Dean’s 2004 bid for the White House. He said this to The Hill: “It’s a waste of time and money. It is not going to change anything. I think it probably was the Stein people looking for a way to stay relevant, raise some money and take the stink off of them. Instead of everybody screaming, ‘You made Trump happen,’ she is counting the votes to change that whole narrative.”
Trump’s Twitter pundit: Stein is a ‘fraud’
BuzzFeed might have described Bill Mitchell best when it called him “a poll-hating Twitter pundit who has no official role with the campaign.” A conservative pundit, Mitchell tweets an average of 270 times a day. The profile of him said “he has arguably become Donald Trump’s most unrelenting social media surrogate.” So you know he has thoughts on this recount business. He said Stein’s a fraud, and suggested she could be criminally charged for her recount effort.
Stein has defended her efforts, saying that there’s no evidence yet that fraud occurred — but a recount is the way to find out. “Unless we actually look,” she told CNN, “we would never know.”