Following her recount petition filing in Wisconsin last week, former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has filed another recount petition in Pennsylvania. Although there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania, the petition cites "grave concerns about the integrity of electronic voting machines" used in the state's elections as grounds for a recount. The petition hints at claims made that voting machines in the U.S. could have been hacked by foreign interests. And though her petition has been filed, Stein and her team still face the obstacle of presenting reliable evidence of fraud, hacking, or tampering to get a recount going in the Keystone State. Though, if the petition succeeds and results in Hillary Clinton winning Pennsylvania, would that mean a new president-elect?
As the results stand now, Donald Trump received about 70,000 more votes than Clinton in Pennsylvania, a difference of nearly 1.2 percentage points. That margin is small, but much larger than the last presidential election recount. In 2000, George Bush originally won 1,784 more votes than Al Gore in Florida. After the recount, that margin was reduced to 537 votes, still in Bush's favor. If Stein's petition is accepted, only massive electronic voting machine malfunction, or voter fraud, could put Clinton's votes over the top, in which case, she would gain all 20 of Pennsylvania's electoral votes.
However, even such a turnover wouldn't be enough to win Clinton the presidency. Trump would still have 306 electoral votes to Clinton's 232. Stein's planned recounts in Wisconsin and Michigan would all have to succeed in Clinton's favor to have any real effect on the presidency. If Clinton were to win recounts in all three states, her electoral college votes would rise to more than Trump's. Only then could she depose Trump as president-elect to become the first female president of the United States.
The recount in Wisconsin is expected to begin this week, but Stein has yet to file a petition for recount in Michigan, where Trump's victory was only affirmed on Monday, and the deadline to request a recount is on Wednesday. Ultimately, even if each petition goes through successfully, Clinton would still have a large number of votes to win in order for the election results to change. At the same time, such a reversal would signal widespread vote tampering or fraud, evidence of which has yet to come to light.
Either way, Stein's recount petitions reflect many Americans' distrust of not only the election results but of the operation of the election process itself. These recounts, or the lack thereof, will still tell an important story about U.S. elections today.