After launching her recount effort in three states with a goal of raising $2.5 million, Green Party candidate Jill Stein has her sights set on $9.5 million, nearly twice the amount she raised during her presidential campaign.
Stein, who has brought in $6.7 million so far through her recount website, is funding, with the participation now of the Hillary Clinton campaign, a recount in Wisconsin scheduled to begin Thursday and one in Michigan that could commence Friday.
In Pennsylvania, she’s facing legal opposition.
A Montgomery County Court judge on Wednesday rejected Stein’s petition to recanvass votes in 72 of the county’s 425 precincts, Philly.com reported.
In Philadelphia, the Board of Elections announced it would meet Thursday morning to review petitions for recounts in 82 of its 1,686 divisions and determine which divisions would be re-examined.
Two top Pennsylvania Democrats, however, have called the recount effort a waste of resources.
“Believe me, if there was anything I could do to make Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States, I would,” said former Gov. Ed Rendell, a long-time Clinton supporter. “But this is a big waste of time.”
Sen. Bob Casey said he does not expect the results to change.
“People are free to pursue a recount, but my focus is on the work that needs to be done in the remainder of this Congress,” he said.
In an editorial Tuesday titled “Jill Stein’s vanity project,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the recounts “are a colossal waste of money and energy when there is not a shred of credible evidence of fraud or error and when the final vote in these three states likely will not change very much.”
Donald Trump slammed the recount efforts in a statement Saturday as a “scam” allowing Stein “to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount.”
A new message on Stein’s website says any surplus “will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform.”
In Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reported, Stein has requested a recount of the nearly 4.8 million ballots cast for president in the state, contending, in part, the number of ballots with no vote for president were a “red flag” to her.
She told the Free Press it may indicate machine error or, in some cases, tampering. But the paper noted both Trump and Clinton had high unfavorable numbers, and write-in votes were counted only for seven people who registered with the state by mid-September.
Stein has acknowledged she has no evidence of election fraud – she says it’s about the integrity of the election – and election officials don’t expect the outcome to change.
Trump won Michigan by a margin of 10,704 votes over Clinton, according to results certified Monday. He has 306 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232, while Clinton has a national popular vote edge of more than 2 million votes.
Front for Hillary campaign?
The Republican Party of Wisconsin alleged in a complaint filed Wednesday with the Federal Elections Commission that the recount effort is a front for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, LawNewz.com reported. Stein has denied the allegations.
Clinton campaign attorney, Mark Elias said in a blog post the Clinton campaign received hundreds of calls to “investigate claims that the election results were hacked and altered in a way to disadvantage Secretary Clinton.” The campaign found no evidence of any attempt to alter the election results, he said, but when Stein announced her effort, the campaign decided to monitor the recount to “ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.”
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine said in an interview Thursday with Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., it is essential his party participate in all presidential election recounts nationwide, the Hill reported.
“I do think people are entitled to know that the results are results that they can trust and that they can count on. So if there’s a recount, we have to be at the table, and we are.”
Clinton’s campaign is seeking volunteers to help with recounts in two of three states that are undertaking recounts, reported the Hill.
The Clinton campaign Tuesday filed a motion to intervene as a formal party in the Stein recount lawsuit.
The Wisconsin GOP’s complaint states: “It is concerning that the Stein campaign would position itself to front and fund a recount attempt that only serves the interest of a desperate and defeated Clinton campaign.”
The Republicans argue Stein’s actions are essentially an illegal, coordinated $3.5 million expenditure on behalf of the Clinton campaign that exceeds the $2,000 limit.
Stein campaign manager David Cobb said in a statement provided to LawNewz.com that the recount effort is “non-partisan and Stein is not coordinating with any other campaign. Any allegations to the contrary are fabrications. The FEC complaint is nothing but a PR stunt to push a false narrative that will ultimately have no impact on the recount in Wisconsin.”
How many illegal-alien voters?
Meanwhile, the top election official in Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is supporting Trump’s claim that the number of illegal aliens who voted in 2016 exceeds the popular vote margin of approximately 2 million, the Wichita Eagle reported.
Kobach, who conceded he has no tangible evidence, cited a study released by two Old Dominion University political scientists in 2014 that found that self-reported non-citizens voted at a rate of 11.3 percent.
“If we apply that number to the current presidential election … you’d have 3.2 million aliens voted in the presidential election, and that far exceeds the current popular vote margin between President-elect Trump and Secretary Clinton,” Kobach said.
Kobach pointed out post-election studies are the only way to assess the problem, because “there’s no way you can look at the voter rolls and say this one’s an alien, this one’s a citizen.”
Kobach, who met with Trump after the election, has advised him on immigration issues throughout the campaign.