People Have Donated Millions To Jill Stein’s Recount Campaign. Is It Worth It? | WBEZ
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People Have Donated Millions To Jill Stein's Recount Campaign. Is It Worth It?

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's effort to force general election recounts in certain swing states continues to gain steam — and money.

Stein announced Wednesday she would demand recounts in three states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and Michigan is still too close to call.

To cover the cost of the recounts, Stein launched a fundraising campaign, which has — so far — raised more than $5 million in less than three days.

Stein's fundraiser website explicitly says the campaign is not an effort to help Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but to "ensure the integrity of our elections." Clinton has not commented on the efforts.

The deadline to file for a recount in Wisconsin is Friday at 5 p.m. local time. Pennsylvania's deadline in Monday and Michigan's is Wednesday.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has begun preparing for a possible recount. The commission director, Mike Haas, called a potential recount "uncharted territory," according to Laurel White with Wisconsin Public Radio. White reported:

State law allows any candidate on the ballot to request a recount, but if the margin is more than 0.25 percent, the candidate must pay for its cost.

Haas said the recount would cost at least $500,000.

The commission is reviewing state law to determine when that money would be due.

"There's a little bit of ambiguity in the statutes," Haas said. "In one place, it states that the fee must be paid at the time the petition is filed; another statute indicates once the petition is filed, that's when our agency calculates an estimate."

Once a recount order is issued by the commission, clerks across the state have 13 days to complete it, Haas said.

Stein initially set a fundraising goal of $2.5 million. As donations started pouring in, that goal jumped to $4.5 million, as New York Magazine's Yashar Ali pointed out on Twitter.

By Friday, the goal had jumped again, to $7 million. The campaign says that will go to cover filing fees, attorney fees and other associated costs.

Donations are still rolling in, but as Stein's fundraising website states, money doesn't necessarily mean the recounts are assured: "We cannot guarantee a recount will happen in any of these states we are targeting. We can only pledge we will demand recounts in those states."

If the recounts don't happen, what will become of all that money? Stein's website says any "surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform." It did not specify what those efforts would be.

As NPR's Camila Domonoske told the Newscast unit, "Some security and election experts have publicly called for paper ballots to be checked in Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan, to make sure that the computers that counted those ballots weren't hacked." But, she says, "There's no evidence that the electronic machines were hacked or the election was compromised."

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