Jill Stein Faces Two More Recount Deadlines

Well, after days of suspicion and speculation, it finally happened: 2016 Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has officially filed for a recount in Wisconsin, as the state's elections commission confirmed on Twitter on Friday, November 25th, just hours before the final deadline. In other words, her eleventh-hour bid to force recounts in three crucial swing states ― Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan ― seems to have worked, at least the first part. But what about the other two? When will Stein file for recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan?

The answer is a little complicated. In the case of Michigan, it's perfectly simple: Stein has until Wednesday, November 30th to file for a recount in the Great Lakes State, meaning as of this writing, the deadline is still five days away. Pennsylvania, however, already had its deadline pass back on Sunday, November 20th, but there is one remaining recourse: according to The New York Times, the election results can still be challenged in court, with the final deadline for such a challenge coming on Monday, November 28th.

In other words, that's where things stand now: the Wisconsin recount has been filed, Pennsylvania's results must be challenged in court by Monday, and Michigan's recount petition must be filed by Wednesday.

Now, it's important to clear the air here about exactly what Stein is attempting, and how likely it is to succeed. On its face, it might sound pretty exciting for a Democrat or a political progressive ― recounts in those three states are, after all, basically the only feasible ways Donald Trump could be kept from ascending to the presidency at this late date.

But Trump's margins of victory in those states are, in terms of how many votes you'd expect to be flipped in the course of a recount, far from close. In Wisconsin, Hillary Clinton trails by more than 20,000 votes, and in the state of Pennsylvania alone, she's down by more than 60,000. In simple terms, that's a colossal advantage to overcome simply by way of a recount. Indeed, absent some kind of evidence of pervasive election fraud, electronic voting machine hacking, or other forms of tampering, it's virtually prohibitive.

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And although some computer scientists reportedly urged the Clinton campaign to consider a recount this week, citing the possibility (which has in no way been demonstrated empirically) that hacking could've dampened her performance in counties with electronic voting machines, their concerns could very easily be the function of population distribution, not foul play or fraud.

In other words, if you're a proponent of normalizing post-election audits and reviews, then there might be some value in this to you, regardless of what the outcome is, and especially if you're willing to accept whatever result is found during the recount(s). But if you're a progressive still hoping against hope that this process will somehow end with Clinton standing victorious over a vanquished Trump, you should temper your expectations, and start planning how you're going to work to advance your causes during the first four years of the Trump era.