Clinton Campaign to Participate in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan Recounts, Top Lawyer Says

Election '16

The Clinton campaign will participate in the presidential recounts initiated by the Green Party, its top election lawyer Marc Elias said Saturday, even though the campaign does not expect it to change the results giving Donald Trump an Electoral College majority.

Elias, writing on, gave the campaign’s most detailed post-election accounting of its private inquiries into the possibility that the vote counts were not accurate or had possibly been hacked. They said they had quietly explored all of the avenues they could, including a meeting with the team that filed for the Greens, which led to a leaked story that computer experts were pressuring the Clinton campaign to file for a recount.

Elias’ statement said it was the campaign’s duty to see the process through to its end, including being present as recounts unfold in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. On Friday, the Green Party filed for a recount in Wisconsin. There are plans to file for a recount in Pennsylvania starting Monday, which is a county-by-county process, and in Michigan on Wednesday. Elias said they would “participate” in the recount without specifying exactly what that may entail.

“Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, 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,” Elias wrote. “If Jill Stein follows through as she has promised and pursues recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, we will take the same approach in those states as well. We do so fully aware that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount. But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.”

The announcement has the potential to take the recount to a new level where it is taken more seriously by the mainstream media as an effort to confirm that Donald Trump was elected by a verified vote count and to identify the segments of swing states that supported his candidacy. The Clinton campaign’s involvement also signals that the Republicans may likely become involved in the legal fights surrounding the recounts in each state. Each state has varying voting systems, ballot types, procedures and recount protocols and you can expect that there will be parallel litigation over the fine print of examining ballots and paperless machinery.

Elias said the Clinton campaign had been inundated with calls from supporters encouraging the campaign to get involved in the recount, “urging us to do something, anything, to investigate claims that the election results were hacked and altered in a way to disadvantage Secretary Clinton. The concerns have arisen, in particular, with respect to Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — three states that together proved decisive in this presidential election and where the combined margin of victory for Donald Trump was merely 107,000 votes.”

The campaign took these messages seriously, especially after it viewed itself as under unprecedented attack by the Russian government. He wrote, “this election cycle was unique in the degree of foreign interference witnessed throughout the campaign: the U.S. government concluded that Russian state actors were behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the personal email accounts of Hillary for America campaign officials, and just yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the Russian government was behind much of the 'fake news' propaganda that circulated online in the closing weeks of the election.”

Elias listed the following five steps the campaign has taken since Election Day to ensure the vote counts were accurate:

  • “We have had lawyers and data scientists and analysts combing over the results to spot anomalies that would suggest a hacked result. These have included analysts both from within the campaign and outside, with backgrounds in politics, technology and academia.”
  • “We have had numerous meetings and calls with various outside experts to hear their concerns and to discuss and review their data and findings. As a part of this, we have also shared our data and findings with them. Most of those discussions have remained private, while at least one has unfortunately been the subject of leaks.”
  • “We have attempted to systematically catalogue and investigate every theory that has been presented to us within our ability to do so.”
  • “We have examined the laws and practices as they pertain to recounts, contests and audits.”
  • “Most importantly, we have monitored and staffed the post-election canvasses — where voting machine tapes are compared to poll-books, provisional ballots are resolved, and all of the math is double-checked from election night. During that process, we have seen Secretary Clinton’s vote total grow, so that, today, her national popular vote lead now exceeds more than 2 million votes.”

Elias acknowledged that the recount and audit procedures vary from state to state and may not lead to satisfying results, because there are gaps preventing every vote to be recounted at the county level. Also because in some cases, the machinery of elections does not have a paper trail.

“For instance, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania conduct post-election audits using a sampling of precincts. Michigan and many other states still do not,” he said. “This is unfortunate; it is our strong belief that, in addition to an election canvass, every state should do this basic audit to ensure accuracy and public confidence in the election.”

He said the Clinton campaign remains dedicated to ensuring an accurate vote count.

“In the coming days, we will continue to perform our due diligence and actively follow all further activities that are to occur prior to the certification of any election results.”

Trump Calls Recount "Ridiculous"

Trump also made his first comments on the recount on Saturday, via a transition team press release. Trump, who spent months saying the election was "rigged" unless he won, now says that "the people have spoken and the election is over" and "we must accept this result and then look to the future."

"It is important to point out that with the help of millions of voters across the country, we won 306 electoral votes on Election Day - the most of any Republican since 1988 – and we carried nine of 13 battleground states, 30 of 50 states, and more than 2,600 counties nationwide - the most since President Ronald Reagan in 1984," his statement said. It omitted that Clinton had won 2 million more popular votes than him nationwide.

Trump also slammed Stein and the Green Party, saying the recount effort was a self-enrichment scheme.

"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. "All three states were won by large numbers of voters, especially Pennsylvania, which was won by more than 70,000 votes. This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing."

The three states targeted for the recount had much closer results than Trump stated.

In Wisconsin, the latest figures show Trump's lead has shrunk to 23,000 votes. In Michigan, it is 11,000 votes. In Pennsylvania, it is 68,000 votes.

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