It’s Recountarama!

Starting Thursday, every county will have to recount the presidential election votes, thanks to two third-party candidates who insisted for reasons known only to themselves on a recount.

The $3.5 million recount is at the behest of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who got 31,000 Wisconsinites to vote for her.

What is this about? Kevin Binversie has one theory:

If Federal Elections Commissions records are to be believed, Jill Stein and her campaign raised more money to finance recounts for Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania than they did during her entire presidential campaign . It’s hard not to look at that kind of quick cash grab and believe that what’s about to take place over the next two week is one part con, one part scam, and three parts psychological exercise in overcoming denial.

They’ve actually done this before In 2004, they fed on the panic of Democrats supporting John Kerry and staged a one-state recount of Ohio. The result, according to the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel was a minimal change to the end result.

In 2004, when many Democrats asked whether Ohio had been lost to voter suppression, the Green Party teamed up with the Libertarian Party to pay for a recount. David Cobb, the then-presidential candidate for the Green Party, had not even appeared on Ohio’s ballot, but he helped raise $150,000 to start the recount process. “Due to widespread reports of irregularities in the Ohio voting process,” said Cobb and Michael Badnarik, the then-presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, “we are compelled to demand a recount of the Ohio presidential vote. Voting is the heart of the democratic process in which we as a nation put our faith.”

The result: Democrat John F. Kerry gained a bit less than 300 votes on George W. Bush, making virtually no difference in the margin.

Expect a similar result in the recount planned for Wisconsin; with the likelihood of  500 or so votes moving around by the time it’s all said and done.

Simply put, if there was going to be any sort of vast change to the margin between Trump and Clinton in Wisconsin, it would have already happened during the statewide canvass. In fact, it did. In addition to announcing the recount challenge by Stein, the state Election Board announced the “certified, official results.” They put Trump’s margin of victory at 22,177 votes.

The “unofficial tally” from the Associated Press on Election Day was 27,257 .

Now before conspiracy mongers on both sides of the aisle start thinking something is going on, realize that since elections are run by people they’re prone to error. The likelihood of these errors increase as county and municipal clerks rush to get results out to a feverishly waiting media and public.

This doesn’t mean anything scandalous or foul is underway as some believe happened in Outagamie County . It just means that mistakes happen from time to time. Numbers and tallies get written down wrong and reported as such. Votes which were counted and reported by one media outlet, may not get reported by the rest. (Brookfield 2011, anyone? )

As for any reports about the system being hacked either statewide or in certain counties of Wisconsin, that continues to be rumors and theories without much proof. The folks at 538.com  have been doing all they can to debunk it.

We found no apparent correlation between voting method and outcome in six of the eight states, and a thin possible link between voting method and results in Wisconsin and Texas. However, the two states showed opposite results: The use of any machine voting in a county was associated with a 5.6-percentage-point reduction in Democratic two-party vote share in Wisconsin but a 2.7-point increase in Texas, both of which were statistically significant. Even if we focus only on Wisconsin, the effect disappears when we weight our results by population. More than 75 percent of Wisconsin’s population lives in the 23 most populous counties, which don’t appear to show any evidence for an effect driven by voting systems. To have effectively manipulated the statewide vote total, hackers probably would have needed to target some of these larger counties. When we included all counties but weighted the regression by the number of people living in each county, the statistical significance of the opposite effects in Wisconsin and Texas both evaporated.Even if the borderline significant result for Wisconsin didn’t vanish when weighting by population, it would be doubtful, for a few reasons. You’re more likely to find a significant result when you make multiple tests, as we did by looking at eight states with and without weighting by population. Also, different places in Wisconsin and Texas use different kinds of voting machines; presumably if someone really did figure out how to hack certain machines, we’d see different results depending on which type of machines were used in a county, but we don’t. And Nate Cohn of The New York Times found that when he added another control variable to race and education — density of the population — the effect of paper ballots vanished.

Sadly, in our new “Post-Truth America,” facts, figures, and data don’t matter as much as feelings, instincts, and rumor. Otherwise, how else would Jill Stein and the Green Party been able to scam enough people willing to give her $5 million for recounts which might not even happen or change the outcome?

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