Jill Stein’s Recount Efforts Have Divided the Green PartyPhoto courtesy of Getty Politics Features Jill Stein
Jill Stein’s recount effort is dividing members of her own party.
A number of Green Party officials have made their opposition to Stein’s efforts to challenge the vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania public over the past week. The recount in Wisconsin was joined by the Hillary Clinton campaign on Nov. 26, raising eyebrows within and without the Green Party about Stein’s motivations. After all, flipping those three states would reverse a Trump victory and deliver the presidency to Clinton.
Stein’s Vice Presidential candidate, Ajamu Baraka, signaled his opposition to the move in a public Facebook post the next day.
“I believe that Dr. Stein sincerely believed that she had an obligation, grounded in her commitment to the principle of election integrity, to mount a challenge to the results in those three states,” Baraka said. “I don’t share that position.”
Stein told Paste this past weekend that the likelihood of a hacked or compromised election was high enough to warrant a recount to preserve voting rights.
“We are not by any means confident this will change the election results,” said Stein. “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.”
And security experts— some of them, at least— agree. Poorvi L. Vora, a Professor of Computer Science at The George Washington University, was among the experts who contributed testimony to Stein’s effort in Wisconsin. Vora wrote in an affidavit supporting the recount that software glitches or problems might only be able to be detected through a manual recount.
“The securely-stored paper records need to be examined to ensure that they are consistent with the election outcomes declared by the voting system software,” wrote Vora. “If they are not examined, any unintentional software bugs, intentional alterations to the vote or to the tally, or procedural errors leading to an incorrect election outcome will not be detected.”
Election integrity aside, the recount effort is seen by many members of the Green Party as problematic for who flipping the states would benefit.
Barak told CNN on Nov. 30 that a recount “would be seen as carrying the water for the Democrats.”
That is the position of over 100 Green Party members who signed a petition on Maryland Green Party US Senate candidate Margaret Flowers’ website questioning the motivation of the recount.
“The recount has created confusion about the relationship between the Green and Democratic parties because the states chosen for the recount are only states in which Hillary Clinton lost,” the statement reads. “There were close races in other states such as New Hampshire and Minnesota where Clinton won, but which were not part of the recount. And this recount does not address the disenfranchisement of voters; it recounts votes that were already counted rather than restoring the suffrage of voters who were prevented from voting.”
Stein rejected the idea she was fighting for Clinton, telling Paste that she saw Clinton as much a part of the American political system as Trump.
“Both candidates were not my candidate,” she said. “I would be doing this no matter who won.”
Despite the dissent in her party over the recount, Stein is pushing forward with fundraising. The response has been astounding. Her recount effort has upward adjusted its number four times— currently the goal stands at $9.5 million (she started at $2.5 million). But that fundraising is raising questions.
“Not a dime of this money goes to the Green Party, a party that has an annual budget of about $300,000 per year,” wrote Maryland Green Party organizer Brandy Baker in CounterPunch, “a party that sorely needs literally 100 times that amount on the national level.”
Baker said in an interview that she understands the emotions on both sides of the issue.
“I think that there is a lot of anger and hurt because when you run a POTUS candidate, especially one as loved as Jill Stein, people pour their sweat and souls into promoting her, promoting the Party,” Baker said “Having a third party, a left party in the US, would be revolutionary, and to see how this recount has played out is painful for so many.”
But, Baker said, that’s not the only position within the party.
“There are also those who love and support Jill and support the recount, especially on the Green National Committee,” she said. “They do not want to see uncomplimentary stuff about Jill and they get very upset.”
Yet for all the division over the recount, the Green Party is showing signs of strength, Baker said. She said she had seen people she had never seen at party meetings before at the opening of a new local branch of the party in Baltimore County.
The enthusiasm for a third party is real and growing, even in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. New York State Green Party leader Howie Hawkins noticed the trend earlier in the year, he said in an interview in June at the state’s convention.
“We’re stronger than ever,” said Hawkins.
With growth comes pain and change and the public division over the recount is a symptom of a changing party, Baker said.
“I think that a lot of what you are seeing is not so much like, ‘oh man, the Green party is dysfunctional’,” she said. “It’s more like, ‘this is a newer political party and stuff happens.’”
But Baker remains optimistic about the party’s future, even if it take some time for the wounds to heal.
“I think that the Greens will move on,” she said, “but relationships will change.”