TRUMP TOWER—Jill Stein, her supporters, and a handful of counter-demonstrators gathered in Midtown Manhattan this morning to discuss the future of the republic. “She’s not actually asking for a recount,” Daby Carreras, a Republican money-manager who recently lost his bid for the New York State Assembly, said, standing across the street from Stein’s press conference. “She’s trying to cause a constitutional crisis.”
Well, no—the Green Party leader is in fact asking for a recount. Her campaign filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania on Monday, deeming the state’s electoral system “a national disgrace.” The federal lawsuit comes on the heels of a state court’s ruling that the more than a hundred voters who had petitioned for a statewide recount must pay a $1 million bond—an “exorbitant, punitive fine that makes it virtually impossible to engage in the recount process,” which rises to the level of a constitutional violation, David Cobb, Stein’s campaign manager, said at the Monday press conference.
The assembled Green Party members were unsurprisingly eager to preempt claims that they were acting on behalf of Hillary Clinton. In fact, some could not resist the opportunity to get a dig in at the Democratic Party for failing to adequately bring the fight to Republicans: “Democrats always bend over for it,” Mark Miller, a professor at New York University, said. “They should do what Donald Trump threatened to do if he’d lost the election.”
The Stein campaign’s complaint—a copy of which was obtained by Jezebel—cites concerns over foreign interference in the 2016 election, Pennsylvania’s “antiquated and fundamentally unfair election laws,” and the “antiquated and vulnerable” voting machines considered “so unreliable that they were decertified by California and abandoned by legislative action in New Mexico.” From the filing:
This labyrinthine, incomprehensible, and impossibly burdensome election regime might make Kafka proud. But for ordinary voters, it is a disaster.
In the 2016 presidential election, rife with foreign interference documented by American intelligence agencies and hacks of voter rolls in multiple states, voters deserve the truth. Were Pennsylvania votes counted accurately? That truth is not difficult to learn: simply count the paper ballots in optical scan districts, and permit forensic examination of the electronic voting systems in DRE districts. This can be done in days, by top experts, if necessary at the Stein campaign’s expense, under the supervision of election officials, and without endangering a single vote.
A majority of machines voted for Donald Trump in Pennsylvania. But who did the people vote for? Absent this Court’s intervention, Pennsylvanians will never know that truth.
Elsewhere over the weekend, the Stein campaign and the recount effort won two major procedural victories: In Michigan, a federal judge ordered a statewide recount to proceed following a hearing on Sunday, rejecting the Republican attorney general and the Trump campaign’s lawyers’ arguments that it should be halted, and in Wisconsin, a federal court rejected a petition from several pro-Trump super PACs seeking to temporarily halt the ongoing, statewide recount there.
“This is not about the outcome of the election,” said Susan Finn, one of the Pennsylvania voters who unsuccessfully petitioned the state to initiate a recount. “This is about the constitutional right of every American to have their voice heard.” (Also: “Our system is a mess.”) Stein herself, standing across the street from Trump Tower, encouraged the president-elect to support her campaign’s efforts to ensure that every vote is accurately counted. “There is nothing to be afraid of,” Stein said, “if you believe in democracy.”
In response to a question from a reporter about the nearly $7 million her campaign has crowdfunded, Stein said: “There will probably not be money left over. We’ll be lucky if we have enough.” Stein spokeswoman Jordan Brueckner provided Jezebel with the following breakdown of the cost of the recount effort:
Wisconsin: $3.5 million (paid) – additional $300,000 to be paid post recount. Essentially there was an accounting error on the state’s part and final total will be 3.8 million.
Pennsylvania: $500,000 (estimated)
Michigan: $973,250 (paid)
These numbers are just the filing fees, Brueckner wrote in an email. “The costs associated with recounts are a function of state law, which can often be difficult to untangle,” she added. “Attorney’s fees are likely to be another $2-3 million, then there are the costs of the statewide recount observers in all three states. The total cost is likely to be $9-10 million.”
Across the intersection of West 56th Street and Fifth Avenue, six counter-demonstrators shouted at Stein from where they were penned in behind a police barricade. “These people believe this country is a democracy. It’s not,” Carreras, the dapper Wall Streeter and failed politician, said, referring to the Green Party and its allies. “It’s a constitutional republic.”
“Stein is wasting taxpayer dollars,” said Ariel Kohane, who was wearing a yarmulke emblazoned with Trump’s face. A bit of a classic Manhattan character, Kohane has made previous appearances in the media as an anti-Beyoncé protestor and a Ted Cruz supporter. “How come you aren’t writing down anything that I’m saying?” he asked at one point, going on to complain about the effect that press conferences like Stein’s have on traffic around Trump Tower, as well as the extra security required in addition to the dozens of police officers that are now stationed around the president-elect’s home.
“I don’t know what they’re talking about,” a cop directing pedestrians when to cross the road told Jezebel. “I have to be here every day.”