Presidential recount brings about mixed reviews, a hope for change

Jill Stein spoke at UMD in the Stamp Grand Ballroom in early November. Now Stein is pushing for an election recount. (Photo by Allison O'Reilly.)

As Green Party 2016 Presidential nominee Jill Stein pursues presidential election recounts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – where President-elect Donald Trump has a collective lead over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of only roughly 103,000 votes – the nation has come to realize this election cycle is not ending without a fight.

Stein told NPR this pursuit is about achieving an accurate vote count – not necessarily changing the outcome, however there are mixed reviews on that reasoning.

“This recount has as a zero chance of changing the outcome of the election,” said Eric Uslaner, a Government and Politics professor at the University of Maryland. “There have never been widespread accounts of vote fraud so the idea of seeking an accurate vote count is crazy. It is a waste of money and nothing will change.”

Others believe the recount is necessary for our democracy.

“The recount is important, because it’s important to highlight the flaws and failings of American democracy,” sophomore Civil Engineering major Brendan Sullivan said.” First, we have the electoral college which didn’t elect the candidate that won the popular vote for the fourth time in American history. Second we have to highlight the fact that there are statistical anomalies in districts which run their elections purely on electronic voting machines.”

Though it may seem like this recount is entirely fueled by the Trump win, it also stems from general dissent with the way elections and voting occur in America.

“Recounts can help to ensure an election’s validity, but they’re not the sole solution,” Senior Government and Politics major Meredith Lightstone said. “Instead a more comprehensive look at voting requirements is critical. This was the first presidential election without the enforcement of 1965’s Voting Rights Act, which was a product of voter suppression ranging from literacy tests to sometimes-fatal violence. Fast forward to 2016 and we see surprisingly lower turnout for certain demographics in swing states, particularly in Wisconsin and North Carolina. Beyond voter suppression, we need to take a hard look at our sometimes-antiquated voting systems to make sure they’re serving us properly.”

Trump has come out, perhaps obviously, against the recounts, calling the efforts a “scam.”

“President-elect Trump knows the recounts won’t change the outcome, so his vocal opposition is curious,” Lightstone said. “It’s also interesting to hear this lack of interest in an audit since he alleged that the election was rigged.”

Although there is little hope for a change in President-elect status, there is a lot of hope for change in the political system.

“If for some incredible reason this recount defied the odds and changed the outcome of the election, it would rightfully cause a serious questioning of all the aspects of the election, which in my opinion is overdue,” Sullivan said. “People would rightfully be indignant about the system that we live under, the fundamentals of a true democracy is that no person’s vote be better than any other. That is not the case in this country. Not even close.”