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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Column: A voter recount can only help the integrity of the election process

Jill Stein's filing of a voter recount protects one of our basic tenets of democracy.

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On Election Day, Memorial Union opened its doors to house a campus voting location.

Alexzandria Churchill/Senior Staff Photographer

Dec. 6, 2016

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

Hunter Gilbert is a freshman at MU. He is an opinion columnist who writes about rights and tech for The Maneater.

Hillary Clinton holds a 2.2 million-vote margin over President-Elect Donald Trump in the current standings of the popular vote. This margin has grown as some states continue to report their total vote counts. Although winning the popular vote is not necessary to win the presidency, this discrepancy can still be infuriating and confusing to those who do not understand the exact way we elect presidents. Whether the electoral college is the proper way to elect a president or not, the process is ingrained in the foundation of our nation’s electoral system. But the preservation of the integrity of the electoral process by holding a recount of the popular vote is necessary to ensure the basic tenets of our democracy.

Jill Stein, the candidate who ran under the Green Party platform, proposed a vote recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, saying that the “presidential election [is] tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines and accusations of irregularities.”

One could say the entire election, especially from the polling perspective, was irregular. The polls were incredibly inaccurate — most predicted a landslide victory for Clinton. In reality, some states that supported President Obama during both of his elections voted for the Republican candidate this year. In some of these states, this has not occurred since Reagan. The drastic voting changes are why a majority of the populace was so incredibly surprised by the results and why the polls were so far off.

If there is any possibility of a conspiracy in Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, the vote should be recounted to protect the integrity of our democracy. Without being sure of the integrity of the vote, the entire process is hollow and lacking the principles on which this nation was founded.

From a tampering perspective, it is important to point out that the voting machines themselves cannot be hacked in the traditional sense. Each individual machine could be spliced and interacted with and tampered via a physical connection (incredibly difficult to get away with) but the idea of some Russian cackling in his basement in Moscow destroying the election isn’t really feasible. This is because they are not connected to the internet. The stations used to count the vote are not even connected to a network. Donald Trump said on several occasions that he believed the systems were rigged against him. But multiple organizations pointed out how this was impossible, and any sort of vote flipping would be tied to a malfunctioning machine, not a large-scale conspiracy or hack.

The irony is the fact that this claim of rigging the election in several specific counties is now coming from the other side of the political spectrum. The evidence of the Democratic and Green parties, mainly from October news pieces when Clinton held a large lead in the polls, can be used against their argument. Currently, no evidence regarding any tampering has been found, including any tampering with the results.

Whether you agree with the result of the Electoral College or not, we should as a nation, at least, be able to agree that the vote was held under untampered conditions.

If you are looking at the recount as a chance to change the election, the vote differential in Michigan can’t mathematically change the result, because Clinton’s vote deficit would still be larger than the margin of votes the recount might restore to her.

The recount at its core is an attempt to assure voters that their votes remain intact, that no tampering has obscured the voice of the people by flipping their vote. In such a case, everyone, regardless of their political affiliations, should be interested, since this could potentially reveal a crack in the foundation of our democracy.

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