Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed a petition for election recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania after raising more than $4.5 million last week to fund recounts in three states.
Stein's Wisconsin recount petition was filed Friday, 90 minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline, Wisconsin Elections Commission officials said.
Pennsylvania’s recount petition was filed Monday afternoon. A petition for Michigan has not been filed as of Monday afternoon, but the deadline to file is Wednesday.
Following the presidential election on Nov. 8, though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million, Trump secured 306 electoral votes to win the presidency.
Here's how we got to the vote recount:
Why is Jill Stein doing this?
Last week, a group of academics and election lawyers cast doubt on the election results in the three states, alleging that voting systems could have been manipulated or hacked.
The group “believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked,” New York magazine, reported.
Alex Halderman, a computer scientist and expert on the security of voting systems, said it was more likely that “polls were systematically wrong” rather than hacked, and advised that a recount is the best way to make sure the election was fair.
“Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not,” Halderman wrote. “I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked.”
Stein said on her website that she is focused on the “three states where the data suggests significant discrepancies in vote totals.”
When you look at the actual data, there’s no indication there was fraud in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — in fact, Trump’s victories follow patterns seen across the country.
A major pattern was Trump outperforming more traditional Republican candidates in Democratic-leaning working-class regions while performing worse than them in the GOP’s historically educated suburban heartlands. This was seen across the entire Rust Belt region from New York to Minnesota. It happened regardless of whether the county in question used paper ballots, optical scanners, or electronic-only voting technology.
Trump did very well with white working class voters, a bloc that until 2016 was resistant north of the Mason-Dixon line to voting Republican en masse. These voters are concentrated in the Rust Belt and Pennsylvania, which is why Trump swept every state therein except Minnesota.
While a Clinton campaign staffer said the camp “had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology," over the summer hackers breached servers and leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign manager.
“Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in a joint statement. “At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes of the election—we can see no other rationale for the behavior of the Russians.”
Why Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin?
These three states gave Trump a total of 46 electoral college votes — enough to sway the presidency had Clinton won those states.
The results in the three states were incredibly close. Trump won Michigan by 0.3% — or 10,704 votes. There were 85,000 "blank votes" in Michigan, where people voted for other races but did not cast a vote for president, according to Newsweek. A manual recount of the votes would be able to determine if there were any discrepancies, such as someone checking a box but not filling out the corresponding oval.
In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Trump won by 1.3% and 0.7% respectively.
What happens next?
Vote recounts happen on a local level, veteran voting rights attorney John Bonifaz told Newsweek, adding that local jurisdictions and local officials have different standards for each other.
Bonifaz added that candidates are allowed to observe the recount, and can litigate anything they do not agree with such as a stray mark not intended to be a vote.
"I would be surprised if the Trump campaign doesn't show up," Bonifaz said. "Wisconsin starts as early as this week."
What happens if the recount vote tallies are different from Nov. 8 results?
It's highly unlikely the results of the election will be overturned, but if the recount yields results different from the initial tally, the state must comply with the results from the recount, though there will likely be more investigations if that happens.
It is unclear what will happen if the states are still counting votes by Dec. 19, the day the Electoral College votes.
So what does Hillary Clinton have to say about this?
Hillary Clinton’s campaign joined Stein's vote recount efforts in Wisconsin on Saturday.
Marc Elias, general counsel for the Clinton campaign, wrote in a post on Medium on Saturday that “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 added that the Clinton camp had not previously pushed for a recount because they “had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology.”
And Donald Trump?
Despite calling Stein's recount efforts a scam, Trump falsely claimed on Sunday that millions had voted illegally.
A claim — based on tweets from a self-styled vote protection activist — that three million “illegal aliens” had voted in the election was published by right-wing conspiracy site InfoWars on Nov. 14.
Trump tweeted again later on Sunday that “serious voter fraud” had taken place in several states. He criticized the media, but again failed to offer any evidence for the claims.