Jill Stein’s recount demand and President-elect Donald Trump’s claim that he would have won the popular vote but for millions of illegal votes in California, Virginia and New Hampshire are both based on fantasy. Even worse, they are destructive political pandering. Maybe we should expect no better from a fringe candidate like Stein. We are definitely entitled to more from our president-elect.
First, let’s talk about Stein. Sure, the presidential election was close. Approximately 80,000 votes out of a total of about 13,679,000 are all that separate Hillary Clinton from Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Take those three states out of the Trump win column and put them in the Clinton column and she’s our next president. Why not ask for a recount when it’s that close. The simple answer is there is no reason to believe a recount in any one of those states, let alone all of them, will change the outcome. Put simply and bluntly, recounts almost never ever change the result. According to research, there are only three statewide races since 2000 where recounts changed the outcome: Al Franken’s race for Senate in Minnesota, Christine Gregoire for governor in Washington and one other obscure race. And, in each of those races, the margin of difference prior to the recount was less than a few hundred votes. The closest of the races in the presidential this year appears to be Michigan where the difference is about 12,000 votes. No recount has ever changed the outcome with a margin that high.
It is simply irresponsible to ask for a recount under these circumstances. Putting aside the enormous cost of a recount, it is being done to undermine the credibility of our most treasured badge of democracy — fair elections. There is no single thread in our democratic fabric than the honest outcome of elections. While mistakes can happen, anyone running for public office should think long and hard about calling into question an election outcome. That’s why in Arizona the only time there is a recount is when the election is within one tenth of 1 percent. Even then, on the few times there have been recounts, the result is almost always the same.
The Stein-nicks cite academic speculation of hacking or some other nefarious conspiracy at work. That, in fact, is even more irresponsible and is actually an allegation of massive vote fraud. Jill, just give it up.
And the Trump claim that he really won the popular vote but for illegal votes in California, Virginia and New Hampshire is even more irresponsible. He had no facts, nothing whatsoever, not even academic noodling, to support his claims that over 2 million people committed felonies to vote for Hillary Clinton. Yes, it is a felony in almost every state for someone who is not legally registered to vote.
Of course in Trump’s case he was underlining his anti-immigrant narrative. While he never seems to be terribly concerned with the factual accuracy of what he says, the magnitude of what he is saying is enormous. For literally millions of people in three different states to vote illegally means that state and county election officials of both parties in three states would have to be in on the greatest fraud since Bernie Madoff. How did millions of illegals get registered, Mr. Trump?
There has been extensive litigation and legislation on the issue of alleged incidents of illegal immigrants voting. There is virtually no evidence of any illegal voting let alone illegal voting of this magnitude.
I don’t like how the election turned out. But Mr. Trump won in the Electoral College and, for whatever it’s worth, Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote. Ms. Stein and Mr. Trump, get over it.
— Andy Gordon is a shareholder with Coppersmith Brockelman in Phoenix. His practice areas include election and political law, having represented a wide array of elected officials and campaigns.