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Stein pushes for election recounts

By Mari A. Schaefer The Philadelphia Inquirer Published: November 26, 2016 4:00 AM

PHILADELPHIA -- Green Party candidate Jill Stein has raised more than $5 million to pursue an election recount in three key Rust Belt states won by Donald Trump, including Pennsylvania.

The funds are needed to post bonds necessary for recounts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. The deadline for contesting Pennsylvania's election results is Monday.

Stein's campaign launched an online fundraising effort Wednesday seeking $2.5 million and then $4.5 million to cover the costs of recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

A new goal of $7 million was set Friday to cover Michigan.

The effort follows a report, published in New York Magazine Tuesday, that some election lawyers and computer experts suspect election returns "may have been manipulated or hacked" in those three states.

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In some areas, they detected a pattern in which Democrat Hillary Clinton fared worse in precincts where votes were recorded electronically, without a paper trail to confirm the digital record is correct, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Philadelphia, along with two-thirds of Pennsylvania counties, uses such machines, which experts have demonstrated can be hacked even without being hooked up to the internet, according to the Post-Gazette.

The basis for this week's concerns, however, appears to be purely circumstantial. One of the experts in the magazine report, University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman, wrote separately that machines had "probably not" been hacked, but the only way to be sure was "to closely examine the available physical evidence."

The Clinton campaign has not pressed for recounts, and Democrats seemed dubious about the notion on Wednesday, according to the Post-Gazette article.

"If there were something to do here, there are a lot of us who would be jumping on it," said Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia election law attorney who represents Democrats.

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Bonin said that while every election has "little hitches and glitches, I haven't seen anything which would cause me to question the results." Nor, he said, "have I ever seen evidence that would lead me to call the machines into question. You can't just go on a fishing expedition. You have to have allegations of specific fraud, or machines that didn't accept votes."

The deadline to file for recounts in Wisconsin is Friday, and in Michigan, Wednesday.

Wisconsin Elections Commission director Michael Haas says that while the commission has no credible evidence of an attempt to manipulate the state's election results, the agency is preparing for a possible recount, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

"After a divisive and painful presidential race, reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many Americans to wonder if our election results are reliable," Stein stated on her website. "These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified. We deserve elections we can trust."

Carl Romanelli, the Stein campaign's Pennsylvania field coordinator, told the Post-Gazette he wasn't aware of problems in the state.

"I haven't spoken with party representatives about complaints that may have come in," he said. But "voter integrity is one of our huge issues, and the Stein campaign appears to be taking the lead on making sure the public can trust its elections."

He added: "I don't want anyone to get the impression that this is about affecting the outcome of the election."

Trump's lead in Pennsylvania is roughly 70,000 votes.

Clinton campaign officials have not commented and were concerned the issue would disrupt the transfer of power or cause further unrest over Trump's win, according to NBC News.

While Trump has been silent on the recount efforts, his former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted Thursday:

"Look who can't accept the election results Hillary Clinton Supporters Call for Vote Recount in Battleground States."

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