Exclusive: Jill Stein Talks to Paste About Recount Efforts, Castro’s Death, MorePhoto by Justin Sullivan/Getty Politics Features Jill Stein
When Jill Stein announced on Nov. 23 that she was fundraising to challenge the election results in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania—all states that went to Donald Trump, and states that would reverse the election in Hillary Clinton’s favor if they all flipped—even she didn’t expect to raise money as quickly as she did. By Thursday night, the effort had smashed its original goal of $2.5 million and was well on the way to the $5 million to $7 million that will be needed.
On Friday, Stein officially filed to challenge the Wisconsin results and request a recount. On Saturday, as Stein spoke to Paste about the election and the recount effort, the Clinton campaign announced they were joining the effort.
Eoin Higgins for PASTE: So, where are we at in the Wisconsin recount?
Dr. Jill Stein: We have filed and we received confirmation that our digital filing was there on deadline. Our mailed filing also went out in the required timeframe— meaning the postmark from yesterday that we got— and we will know more on Monday.
But we expect to go ahead in Wisconsin. And if there is resistance to our efforts we expect to be in court very soon.
PASTE: Do you think there’s a possibility they’ll try to stop the recount from going forward?
Yes, of course there is certainly that possibility.
PASTE: What’s the timeline for Michigan and Pennsylvania?
Michigan has to be filed on Monday and Pennsylvania has to be filed on Wednesday.
Pennsylvania is extraordinarily difficult, it’s unique. It’s not a file by candidate state; filing for a recount has to be done by three voters in each precinct. And there are thousands of precincts.
It’s a logistical nightmare, but there are election integrity activists and networks that have been preparing for this in Pennsylvania. So this is a grass roots efforts and we’ll take it as far as we can.
PASTE: Does that mean that if you were only able to file in certain precincts, you would only have the votes recounted in those precincts?
It’s a decentralized process. My understanding is that it could go forward in some districts even if it doesn’t go forward in all districts.
PASTE:Why do you think that something happened with the voting machines?
We don’t know, but this is an election that has been riddled with hacking. Hacking into voter databases in Illinois and Arizona, as well as other attempts, hacking into the Democratic Party database, hacking into various campaign officials emails. On the other side, you have a voting system that has been proven to be very friendly to hacking, manipulation, and malfeasance.
For example, some of the voting machines used in Wisconsin are illegal to be used in California. California looked at the research and decided the machines’ vulnerability was an absolutely unacceptable risk. It’s essentially an invitation to trouble.
So California got rid of those voting machines. But they’re still in use in Wisconsin.
In Pennsylvania, we have voting machines that are so-called DREs, touchscreens that don’t even leave a paper trail. And they’re also open to hacking. That’s the vast majority of the machines used across the state.
And in Michigan, there were extremely disproportionate numbers of blank votes that need to be explained.
PASTE: Are there issues with the election and voting other than the machines?
You also had many states in which the actual outcome was at odds with not only the predicted vote but also the exit polls. Now, while exit polls are not by any means the definitive proof, they’re recognized by the US government as the quality in other countries where we have a variety of government sponsored efforts to support democracy and election integrity. There are groups like The Carter Center that say they can’t even approach the US system because it is so riddled with problems.
So, on the one hand we have hacking all over the place and on the other hand we have a system that invites it! The only way you would ever know if the votes have been hacked is to actually count them.
It really raises a broader issue, which is that we should have a system where there is built-in confidence, built-in safeguards, built in quality assurance. You don’t want to get on an airplane and wait for it to crash. You don’t want to wait for its systems to break down in order to have safeguards built into the airplane. The same should be done with our voting system.
The people who have been alerted to this, the advocates for this, have been building this case for many years. It’s interesting that finally we have an opportunity to ask these questions when the American public has been alerted to the risks built into our voting systems.
PASTE: What do you hope to change about American elections through this recount?
The American public emerges from this election very beat up and bruised. According to a New York Times poll, 80 percent of Americans were disgusted by the process of this election.
This was an election in which wide swaths of the American public were not voting for a candidate they supported, but against a candidate that they were really afraid of. So to my mind, ensuring the integrity of our vote is a first step towards taking back an election system that we can have confidence in and that we, the voters, own.
That means ending voter disenfranchisement; the use of voter IDs, vote stripping of the vote rolls, through things like Interstate Crosscheck that may have taken millions of people off the registries. It means actually having a system that informs and empowers voters by allowing them to have access to a full choice of candidates.
And it means allowing voters to bring their values into the voting booth and not restricting voters based on their fears. Using a system like Maine just adopted of ranked choice voting. It allows you to rank your choices, giving you the confidence that if your first choice loses, then your vote will align with your second choice.
Our campaign was screaming for voter reform— really for the last decade— in this election because people were so unhappy with their two choices, but systematically denied knowledge of what all their choices really were.
So we emerge from this election with a lot of anguish, but we’re ready to stand up and make it better. And to my mind that’s the most exciting thing about this election, that this effort to fund election integrity, which has funded itself a grassroots, crowdsourced campaign, took off. We basically put out a press release and made a web page and that was it.
PASTE: So obviously you’re doing this in these three states that could swing the results of the election to Hillary Clinton, and she’s somebody who you have been very critical of in the past. Do you think the recount will shift the results? Does that mean you believe that a Clinton presidency would be less harmful than a Trump presidency?
Let me start by saying that throughout the campaign I was often asked if there were concerns raised about the security and reliability of the vote, would I challenge it? And I always said, absolutely, without regard for who the winner was.
And I also refused, throughout the campaign, to say that I thought one candidate was preferable to the other. In my mind, both candidates are an expression of an election system that has been hijacked by the political and economic elite. Both candidates were not my candidate. So I would be doing this no matter who won.
There’s an article in this week’s Black Agenda Report by Bruce Dixon, a co-chair of his Green Party in Georgia. It states really beautifully that the voting integrity movement is not about preferring one political party over another, it’s about creating a politics that belongs to we the people.
That is the intent here. We are not by any means confident this will change the election results. In fact we believe it is highly unlikely to change the results. But it will give us an answer one way or another on election integrity because academics, activists, and others are all very much convinced that our election system is extremely at risk.
PASTE: While I have you here, I just wanted to get your reaction to Fidel Castro’s death.
It feels like the passing of an era of incredible struggle and he certainly represented the struggle against empire right across the water. Throughout the Caribbean, there’s been an incredible struggle— whether you live in Haiti or in Cuba or even much of the rest of South America, there’s been a great struggle for social justice and it’s been very difficult.
Castro was in many ways the face of that movement, which continues to this day.