For the past several days, social media has been alight with speculation and predictions about Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, and whether or not her stated effort to launch recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania would actually come to fruition. And now, the moment of reckoning has finally arrived: Jill Stein filed for the Wisconsin recount on time, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, meaning (barring any unforeseen developments) that it should go forward.
What does this mean, in real terms? It's impossible to know quite how the Trump campaign (or rather, the Trump presidential transition) will react to this news, even though it's highly unlikely to change the fundamental outcome of the race. Even if the Wisconsin recount goes forward, unencumbered by any legal challenges like those which occurred during the Florida recount following the 2000 presidential election, and even if it somehow ended up swing the state to Clinton, that wouldn't hand her the presidency.
For that to happen, she'd have to successfully flip the outcomes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, the latter of which currently has Trump winning by more than 60,000 votes. In short, absent some evidence of systemic election fraud that accounts for tens of thousands of reversed votes, Donald Trump is going to remain President-elect of the United States, and Hillary Clinton will remain a private citizen.
That said, this could provide an interesting glimpse into just how accurate the initial vote count was, and obviously, whether there are any systemic or pervasive issues that need to be addressed. Regardless of what you think about Stein, Clinton, or the 2016 race, the fact remains that the world is careening ever faster into a time when it'll be harder and harder to have faith in the integrity of elections.
For all the myriad reasons Clinton lost, and there were definitely plenty that had nothing to do with foreign interference, there's nonetheless considerable evidence that the Russian government attempted, successfully, to hamper Clinton's candidacy with hacks. And while there are good reasons to think such a task would be prohibitively difficult to engineer when it comes to rigging the vote in a state, these concerns are only going to amplify as the years go by and technology excels, not diminish. In short, even though this is a recount and not an audit, it could be a positive force if it gathers momentum for some regular form of post-election audits in America.
So, that's where the Jill Stein recount effort stands right now. It'll be fascinating to see what happens next, although if you should take away anything from all this, it's that you shouldn't be dragging your heels or getting lost in dreams of somehow keeping Trump out of the White House. Because barring something absolutely unprecedented in American political history, he is going to be our next President, and political progressives have plenty to deal with besides wishing that wasn't true.