Few people ever thought these words would be cogent; but Jill Stein may have radically altered the course of American electoral history. She may even save our democracy (such that it is).
Just before midnight on Thanksgiving Eve of 2016, former presidential candidate Jill Stein and her Green Party reached their online goal of over $2.5 million to fund a recount in the state of Wisconsin. They have now surpassed $4.5 million of their goal, and have pushed their goal to $7 million to cover the expensive filing and legal fees, as well as the necessary observers in a total of three states. The deadline to file is Friday, and while most Americans would be readying themselves for shopping madness, enough citizens donated to the perhaps naïve idea that we can return to transparent and legitimate elections in America. Two more states are in their crosshairs, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and with respective filing deadlines of Monday and Wednesday, these states are needed to swing the electoral vote count away from Drumpf’s favor.
All this based on the concerns of cybersecurity professionals, computer scientists, statisticians and other experts that an audit of the election in these battleground states is needed based on discrepancies in vote totals.
So is it worth it to donate? Is it all some scam? Just a waste of time and money on wishful thinking? Or rather, the most important question of all: Could the election even have been rigged?
Remember, many of Donald Drumpf’s psychological foibles came out to play this campaign, though he seems to have muted them (or been muted by wary staffers). Among these were his tendency to often project his own faults/sins onto his opponents, a quirk of the extreme right in general when faces with challenging cognitive dissonance. Drumpf has also been praised for his brashness, sometimes clumsily blurting out Republican knowledge (and even information from intelligence briefings) that other wiser, more seasoned operators and strategists would have preferred to keep coded.
And what had been the resounding cry for the two weeks when the electoral lead shifted? ‘It’s rigged, it’s rigged!’ Drumpf has thrown out so many red flags, it’d be truly naïve of us not to be suspicious. Though still speculation, we should perhaps appreciate a plan so diabolical that it accuses the other side of rigging the election, eliciting scoffs and jeers of “only a moron would believe our election could be rigged”, thus tying your opponents’ hands and tongues when your side actually rigs the election. Although many did point out beforehand that while “rigging” was unlikely, a theft by “hacking” was a very real danger to the Republic by nefarious agents.
A risky and unbelievable assertion? Perhaps. But also remember that Drumpf and his top aides needn’t even have been aware of such chicanery, and in fact seem to have been as surprised as the rest of us. So be as skeptical if you please, but know that these are very serious experts alleging the possibility of a fix.
Drumpf lost the popular vote by over two million votes and counting, and eked out the most implausible win possible (barring a win for Johnson or Stein herself). Voter rolls in at least two states (that we know of) were probed by hackers. Experts note that if one were to theoretically hack our election as a foreign power, they would need to first view voter registration databases, as was done in Illinois and Arizona, currently being investigated by the FBI. Such bad actors could then utilize malware to do their bidding from there:
“This malware would likely be designed to remain inactive during pre-election tests, do its dirty business during the election, then erase itself when the polls close. A skilled attacker’s work might leave no visible signs — though the country might be surprised when results in several close states were off from pre-election polls.”
~ J. Alex Halderman, Professor of Computer Science, University of Michigan
Vote totals suspicious are suspicious in these states, with many results not matching up with exit polls (never a perfect rubric, admittedly), defiance of trends seen during early voting, and more importantly, eerie discrepancies in precincts that used paper versus electronic ballots. Nearly every single race where there was a disparity between exit poll and final vote data, the race went to Drumpf, and the most notable inconsistencies were in many of the very same swing states in question (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida).
Drumpf won states that have not backed Republican presidents for decades. A record number of mail-in absentee ballots were seen in Wisconsin. Attorney General Bruce Beemer and police in Pennsylvania are investigating “voter registration irregularities”. In Ohio it was reported that while electronic voter machines did have failsafes in place, officials there actually opted to turn those software protections off.
“The theory here rests not on the claim that the hackers used data from Illinois to apply for registration status and absentee ballots. Rather, the theory is that the hackers used the data from Illinois to place fake voters into voter registration databases which they also hacked… A leading computer scientist agreed this is how it could be done.”
So was it possible that such hackers in key precincts strategically altered our election’s trajectory and, thus, the electoral count? We already suspect that Putin considers our democracy a carnival or a game for him to manipulate the way America has done with third-world nations and banana republics in the past. For Putin, it is perhaps not just part of his nationalist push to influence governments around the world, or to gain an edge in conflicts like Syria and Eastern Europe, or even the paranoid conspiracy theories of his advisors, but also as revenge for our role in geopolitical tampering going back to the Color Revolutions.
Even with self-deleting software, traces might be left by the massive security holes, and of course, the discrepancies from the paper ballots themselves. A skeptical point about this being an efficacious strategy is that it would require precision timing, a keen observance of polling trends day-by-day and county-by-county, and a massive conspiracy to commit multiple crimes. As a foreign government, the alleged superpower would have the resources, the interest, the motivation, the manpower, and a lack of fear of legal reprisal along with a heaping dose of deniability. Russian officials have been rather coy about their involvement, all but admitting that they planned to effect the election.
But US officials already formally accused the Russians earlier this year of not only hacking into DNC emails, but also covert operations to destroy the integrity of our election itself. Russian officials, a diplomat and at least one veteran spy alleges governmental efforts to communicate with Drumpf’s people via a server registered to the campaign, as well as operations to cultivate Drumpf. They may have created fake documents to discredit the Democratic party to influence the election, they stated a desire to “monitor” polling places in certain states, and the DNC told the FBI that they believe their offices had been bugged. The Republican nominee and now president-elect called on the same foreign power to hack his political rival, whom he later said he would jail.
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
“Voting machines, especially those that have digital components, are intrinsically susceptible to being hacked. The main protection against hacking is for voting machines to provide an auditable paper trail.
However, if that paper trail is never audited, it’s useless.
We not only need elections to be auditable, we need them to be audited.”
Voting machines have indeed been hacked in the past: two officials were convicted for their part in a 2004 rigging scam, amidst claims of larger fraud, a computer programmer in 2010 testified under oath before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that programs could be used to fix elections, and members of Anonymous claimed to have prevented just such a massive voter theft in Ohio in 2012. Others have shown that voting machines could be theoretically hacked in less than ten minutes.
This is to say nothing of the very real and proven attempts by Republicans to disenfranchise voters, even though these voters did nothing wrong, and instead everything they were supposed to. The “Cross Check” system was created by Drumpf advisor and wannabe supervillain Kris Kobach (also notable for helping to craft Arizona’s SB 1070 or “Papers Please” bill), and is truly terrifying in that they may have robbed 1.1 million Americans of their legal right to vote based on legal loopholes that drop voters from rolls based on their names, largely targeting minorities.
Numerous Republicans have stated their motives for depriving voters their right to vote (including voter ID laws) was purely political and demographically selective, including a recent North Carolina politician bragging about depressing black turnout.
Voter turnout was low, and most of the country did not vote. Even then, the majority of those that did, did not vote for Drumpf. Moderate Republicans fled, and many of those who did vote for him claimed that he was the first person they felt they could vote for in many years (meaning, not typical voters). These were the two most unfavorable candidates we could have gotten, and Drumpf even had high unfavorable ratings on election day! It’s quite possible that his margins were even lower, as a recount could reveal.
This is all important because no matter the outcome, Donald Drumpf, like all Republicans, wants to claim a mandate. (They claim a mandate despite his losing the popular vote, though the GOP always seems to do so with any win, even midterm, no matter how scant, and deny others have a mandate even when it’s a landslide.)
For those of you not paying attention to what’s going on in the country, or haven’t taken a peek at social media in weeks, the most ardent Drumpf supporters include the KKK and Alt-Right neo-nazis heiling their new führer. If their demagogue claims a mandate, then hate crimes dramatically rise. Luckily Drumpf, between spats with SNL and the cast of Hamilton, did once say “Stop it” into a camera.
But more chilling, Drumpf is installing a fascist inner circle that includes the man who gave the alt-right their platform, a man who calls Muslims a “cancer”, a man Republicans in Congress once deemed too racist to become a judge, and the aforementioned architect of Cross Check. His plans for America include expanding Stop-and-Frisk, registering Americans based on their religion, enthusiasm for torture, and breaking apart families. These bigotries and ideologues are now closer to the White House than every before, and racists rejoice.
They may not have had implicit knowledge of tampering, but these fascists do not care if the election was stolen for them, by Russians or anyone else. They would be perfectly happy if America turned into a totalitarian state with no elections ever again.
Drumpf is not a legitimate president, and we do not have to accept the leadership of our country by a man who would crush dissent. Even if nothing comes of this and he is inaugurated on Friday, January 20th, it should come with the rank smell of illegitimacy and electoral doubt that it deserves.
The Democrats may not be willing to challenge the vote count, for a myriad of reasons from their tone deaf inside-the-beltway-correctness, to their own corruption, from being seen as sore losers to just feeling plum defeated and exhausted. No state on their own will check the paper ballots without being urged to do so, half of the states gave no laws requiring any manual examination of paper ballots, a failing that would have been known to mysterious hackers who did their homework.
Already Democrats and their stupid tribalism are perpetuating all manner of pooh-poohing and absurdly confused rationale to minimize the Green Party and the American people’s efforts at a recount. “Hillary Clinton hasn’t called for a recount yet” (she should), “Jill Stein just wants to assuage herself and the rest of us that she didn’t cost Hillary the election”, “Jill Stein is just a Russian shill!”
But perhaps this is for the best, for without Hillary Clinton as their easy target on the national stage, the Republicans have only the vague, imaginary monolith of “leftists” to blame, or Jill Stein herself. That may present a problem to them, as she is another outsider challenging their so-called “outsider”. It’s hard to find credible examples of her being ‘crooked’ or in anyone’s pocket, and if right-wingers want to charge that she’s a Putin puppet then they just risk relitigating their own candidate’s foibles in this area.
But if Stein and many who still believe democracy to still be possible have their way, it would be an end run around both milquetoast Democrats and corrupt conservatives. By forcing the issue, raising the necessary funds, filing the paperwork on time and amplifying the message, the scrutiny of the entire world falls to those suspicious precincts.
If even one state has to comply with a paper recount (paper is vital, despite the inconvenience, looming deadlines and astronomical legal fees), and if voter tampering is apparent, then we’ll see shit really hit the fan. If Trumpers think their side did nothing wrong, then why oppose it? Maybe the American people discover that both parties cheated. Maybe it was George Soros all along! We just don’t know. We just need to figure out what’s going on, to restore faith in our system.
There doesn’t seem to be any easy way out of this now that won’t stain forevermore our so-called democratic process. Protests were already underway before allegations by experts of the election being crooked, so imagine what people will do if there are allegations of a crooked recount. Look at the country right now, for fuck’s sake. All it would take is one precinct to have been shown after audit to be have been rigged.
Though the initiative has reached its initial goal, continue to donate so that each of these key states can demand recounts, as attorneys and direly needed overtime-and-holiday pay doesn’t come cheap.Call the Department of Justice (202-353-1555) (202-514-2000), Call Congress’ Oversight Committee (202-225-5074), Call the Pennsylvania Attorney General (717-787-6458) and Governor Tom Wolf (717-787-2500) to request an immediate vote audit due to irregularities & possible manipulation.
This has been a bizarre election. Our country, despite what you may think, has a storied history of bizarre elections, but this one by far has taken the cake. It may be the election to end all elections. Make sure it’s the most discussed political item this holiday weekend.