LANSING, MICH. - It's official: The campaign of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has requested a recount of the nearly 4.8 million ballots cast for president in the state of Michigan.
So why is she doing it? The number of blank ballots in Michigan's presidential election results were a "red flag" to her.
"In part, Michigan has this very high level of under votes; that is, blank ballots," Stein said during an interview today on "Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson" on WDET radio.
Henderson, also the Free Press editorial page editor, pointed out that 84,000 ballots had no presidential choice.
"Exactly," Stein replied. "That is quite an unusual number. This is breaking records, blowing through the roof. This may be a tip off, or a red flag that there's either been machine error, or in some cases tampering.
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But a couple of factors could be attributed to that under-count. First, both Trump and Clinton had high unfavorable numbers in polls before the election. Trump’s were at 56% while Clinton’s were at 54%, according to a compilation of polls kept by the website Real Clear Politics. And, write-in votes were counted only for the seven people who registered with the state as write-in candidates by mid-September. So any write-in votes for candidates like U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Democrat who beat Clinton in Michigan’s presidential primary, or vice presidential pick Mike Pence or many other names that could have been written in weren’t included in the final presidential election results.
"The issue of hacking has been raised because there was a lot of hacking going on during this election - in two state databases, into the Democratic party database, into private e-mails. You don't have to implicate foreign actors, this can be people right here as well. It's not hard to do, and these machines are wide open to these sorts of problems. In this modern age it's not too much to ask that we have systems that are safe guarded."
Stein has acknowledged she has no evidence of election fraud. And officials do not expect this recount to change the outcome of the election, which Republican candidate Donald Trump won with 306 electoral votes over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Rather, it's about ensuring the integrity of the election, Stein indicated.
"It's an answer to the widespread distrust and cynicism, frankly, that is pretty pervasive these days," Stein said. "Confidence is at an all-time low. After this very divisive election, one thing that people feel good about that we can do right now is ensure that our votes were properly counted and that we can have confidence in this very bitter and divisive election."
The recount in Michigan could begin as soon as Friday, with a goal of finishing by Dec. 10. Trump won Michigan by a margin of 10,704 votes over Clinton, according to the election results the state Board of Canvassers certified Monday.
Stein will pay $973,250 for the recount, but it could cost as much as $2 million, according to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Stein is also looking for recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two other key states in the presidential election that went to Trump.
So what does Stein have to say about those who say the recounts could cost too much money and take up too much time?
"Taxpayers are also voters, and how you vote has an awful lot to do with what your tax burden is, and how it's being spent," Stein said. "If you want your taxes being spent wisely, we need a voting system that responds to us that is not subject to malfeasance and error. Most of that cost, if not all of it, should be handled by the fee.
"If some of it is not, democracy is not free. If we want our tax dollars well spent we better be darn sure we voters have control over it."
Detroit Free Press