Donald Trump’s margin over Hillary Clinton in the three states that provided the Republican’s decisive Electoral College majority is only a combined 104,000 votes. But don’t expect that to change.
The odds that Clinton will somehow end up reciting the oath of office on January 20 are extremely low.
Despite pending recounts or audits planned in those three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – the reality is that the results would have to change to such a degree that Clinton would carry all of them. Even Democratic officials in those states insist that the count wouldn’t change that drastically.
Still, Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee who finished fourth in each of the three states, is moving to challenge the election results, citing irregularities in the vote count.
While Stein’s recount campaign involves only cursory participation from the Clinton camp or any official arm of the Democratic Party, it has mobilized progressives seeking to deny Trump the presidency. Stein has raised millions to pay the three states to audit the results or count the ballots again.
But even if recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin, the two closest states, flipped those states to Clinton, the Democrat would still need the 20 electoral votes from Pennsylvania to overtake Trump. And Clinton trails Trump by nearly 71,000 votes in Pennsylvania.
The size of those battleground-state tallies will almost certainly withstand any recount or audit — despite Clinton’s overall lead in the national popular vote, which is approaching 2 percentage points.
Here are 7 questions about the recounts — and why they are unlikely to alter the outcome of the election:
1. What is happening in the 3 states?
Both Michigan and Wisconsin have finalized their vote counts. Stein has filed a challenge to the Wisconsin results, and has until Wednesday to move for a Michigan recount.
The system is different in Pennsylvania. There, the Stein camp has already moved to recount results in more than 100 precincts. It is also pursuing a separate legal effort to initiate a statewide recount by judicial order.
2. What are the questions raised in the states?
In its Wisconsin filing, Stein suggests that the hacking of elections systems and political actors by foreign entities or agents could have been extended to the state’s electronic voting machines. Moreover, Stein said in the filing, “there is evidence of voting irregularities” in Wisconsin, including “a significant increase in the number of absentee voters.”
Stein’s case in Pennsylvania is similar and includes identical supporting materials, including an affidavit from University of Michigan professor J. Alex Halderman, in which Halderman outlines the cyber vulnerabilities he’s discovered in elections systems.
“One explanation for the results of the 2016 presidential election is that cyberattacks influenced the result,” Halderman says in the affidavit.
“The only way to determine whether a cyberattack affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is to examine the available physical evidence —…