Weeks of recounting, a long list of court hearings up and down the state and federal court systems, myriad legal motions and all the strategizing the Democratic Party could muster in 2000 failed to overcome the 537 votes giving George W. Bush the Florida victory over Al Gore.
So what is the likelihood the party 16 years later could overturn tens of thousands of votes in multiple states to change the Election Day victory by Donald Trump?
Even the Democrats concede it’s not expected.
“Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise the option ourselves (to request a recount), 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,” Marc Elias, the general counsel for the Hillary Clinton campaign, wrote in a weekend column at Medium.com.
He pointed out all the investigatory efforts already made by the Clinton campaign, with “lawyers and data scientists and analysts combing over the results to spot anomalies … numerous meetings and calls with various outside experts to hear their concerns … [attempts] to systematically catalogue and investigate every theory … examine[d] the laws and practices as they pertain to recounts, contests and audits.”
The party is also monitoring post-election canvasses in which voting machine tapes “are compared to poll-books, provision ballots are resolved, and all of the math is double checked from election night.”
It is Green Party candidate Jill Green who is raising stunning amounts of money, more than $5 million already, to fund recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The Clinton campaign is joining those efforts as they develop.
But in those three states, Trump’s victory was by a total of about 107,000 votes, Elias pointed out.
And Carl Bialak at the FiveThirtyEight blog noted the margin is way beyond anything that ever has been overcome in a recount.
“Recounts typically don’t swing enough votes to change the winner,” he advised. “Out of 4,687 statement 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 rate, Thomas Salmon’s win in Vermont’s 2006 auditor election and Christine Gregoire’s win in Washington’s 2004 gubernatorial race.”
He said recounts also typically don’t change the margin by an amount that would be large enough to affect the result of the presidential election.
“The mean swing between the top two candidates in the 27 recounts was 282 votes, with a median of 219,” he said.
“The biggest swing came in Florida’s 2000 presidential election recount, when Al Gore cut 1,247 votes off George W. Bush’s lead, ultimately not enough to flip the state. … In each state Trump won or leads in, his advantage is more than 10,000 votes.”
He said some statewide races that have undergone recounts “have far fewer votes than the closest states in the 2016 presidential race, but even in percentage terms, the average swing was 0.2 percentage points, which could be enough to flip Michigan but not any other states (and therefore not the Electoral College; even with Michigan, Clinton would be 22 electoral votes short of the 270 needed to win).”
With Michigan’s 16 votes certified for Trump this week, his total is 306 to Clinton’s 232. That means even if the outcome in Michigan, the state with the closest margin at this point, would be reversed in a recount, Trump would still win, 290-248.
If Pennsylvania also would be reversed, Trump would still win 270-268.
It would take a reversal in Michigan, as well as in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which has 10 votes, to give Clinton a 278-260 win.
But in Michigan, Trump won by 10,704 votes. In Pennsylvania, he won by 68,236 and in Wisconsin by 27,257.
In Wisconsin, a statewide recount five years ago pitted incumbent state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, a conservative, against a liberal challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg. The race was decided by just 7,316 votes out of about 1.5 million cast. But Kloppenburg could only gain 210 more votes in a recount and failed in her challenge.
Richard Baehr at American Thinker posited that the delay is the objective.
“The recounts, if done by hand, which can be demanded, may take longer than the last day for completing the official counts in a state and directing Electoral College voters. If all 3 states miss the deadline, Trump is at 260, Hillary at 232. No one hits 270,” he explained. “Then this goes to Congress, where the House voting 1 vote per state elects Trump, and Senate selects Pence. This would be first time this happened since 1824, but in that case, John Quincy Adams won in the House, though he had fewer Electoral College votes than Andrew Jackson. ”
But he said the impact is this: “If this goes to the U.S. House and Senate, and the result is the same as result from the Electoral College without the recounts, why do it? The answer is to make Trump seem even more illegitimate, that he did not win the popular vote (he lost by over 2.1 million), he did not win the Electoral College (did not reach 270), and was elected by being inserted into the presidency by members of his own party in Congress.”
He pointed out that if a state doesn’t name electors, because of an unfinished recount, “the number needed to win goes down; a majority of those named is enough. Even with 260-232, Trump should win unless there were lots of faithless electors.”
A second possible motive could be to build support for a movement that aims to eliminate the constitutional requirement for an Electoral College.
The result could be a popular-vote race that could be controlled by a handful of the largest states, putting lower-population states on the sidelines.
But to amend the Constitution, many of those states would have to approve, which is unlikely.
However, the group National Popular Vote wants the Electoral College changed so it reflects the national popular vote.
The group contends that the Constitution gives states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes, so its interstate compact would declare the winner of the presidential race would be the candidate who received the most popular votes from all 50 states and D.C. on Election Day.
See the group’s promotion:
Ironically, it was Trump who said during the campaign he would review the results before simply accepting the outcome announced on election night.
It was Hillary Clinton who said the nation for 240 years has “accepted elections.”
“He refused to say he would respect the results of this election. He is threatening our democracy,” she said.
Stein filed for a recount in Wisconsin last Friday, and on Monday state officials agreed to proceed after Stein makes full payment estimated at $3.5 million by a deadline Tuesday.
Wisconsin officials already have said they have found no evidence that any of their voting machines were hacked.
They defended their count and promised a recount would be fast and fair.
If there is a recount request in Michigan, reports said it would not automatically be granted, even if the fees are paid. If a request is submitted, the Detroit Free Press reported, Trump would have a week to object, then the Board of State Canvassers would hold a hearing before issuing a ruling.
Trump, meanwhile, has pointed out that Clinton already has conceded the election, telling Americans that the next president will be President Trump.
He immediately suggested that the number of illegal aliens who voted probably would have turned the popular vote his direction.
The legacy media members, such as NBC, included claims that he was just publicizing “thus-far baseless claims of voter fraud,” and the Washington Times said his allegations were “without specific evidence.”
However, the non-profit Americans for Legal Immigration PAC released dozens of pages of documentation noting 46 states have prosecuted or convicted cases of voter fraud, more than 24 million voter registrations are invalid, there are more than 1.8 million dead voters still on rolls and more than 2.75 million Americans are registered to vote in more than one state.
The group also said the Florida New Majority Education Fund, Democratic Party of Florida and the National Council of La Raza currently are under investigation for alleged voter registration fraud.
“While Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton try to delegitimize President-elect Trump’s historic win on November 8, 2016, by calling for recounts, their strategy can be quickly turned into a nightmare for the Democratic Party and SEIU political machinery that willfully engaged in mass election fraud using a host of George Soros financed organizations and operatives. Republicans, conservatives, Trump supporters, and all Americans that value fair and secure elections should be encouraged to turn their attention to the vast Democrat voter fraud that made the race much closer than it should have been,” the group said.
“Donald Trump is absolutely correct that large volumes of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential race predominantly for Democrat candidates and illegal immigrants were brought across the borders to reinforce Obama and Hillary Clinton in these elections,” said William Gheen, president of ALIPAC. “Obama himself admitted on video to Spanish language audiences comprised of illegal immigrants that illegals would face no scrutiny or hindrances registering to vote and voting, both of which are felonies and deportable offenses. We will work hard to ensure that American voters are never faced with their votes being stolen and muted by foreign nationals again. Let the contentious and historic 2016 elections be remembered as the point where Americans secured our borders and ballots from illegal immigration!”
Breitbart reported that a prominent left-wing money supplier who gets behind many progressive campaigns had been behind Elias in earlier fights.
The report didn’t say that George Soros was writing checks for the recount battle, but it said Elias, a senior lawyer at Perkins Coie in Washington, which works for Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, previously had been pledged up to $5 million from Soros to fight “restrictive voting laws enacted in recent years by Republican-controlled state governments.”
At the time, the New York Times said Elias specializes in “voter-protection issues” and had been in contact with Soros about a series of lawsuits over the issue.
The report said, “The goal is to try to influence voting rules in states where Republican governors and Republican-led legislatures have enacted election laws since 2010, and to be ready to intervene if additional measures are passed over the next 17 months.”
The Washington Post also had reported at the time on Elias’ supporter: “With a multi-million-dollar commitment from liberal mega-donor George Soros, Elias is challenging laws that, he argues, diminish the impact of important Democratic Party constituencies of African-Americans, Latinos and young people.”