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Jill Stein: $1.5 million refund could pay for new voter advocacy group

Jill Stein: $1.5 million refund could pay for new voter advocacy group

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Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein said a roughly $1.5 million refund from the Wisconsin recount could go toward a new voter advocacy effort in the state.

Stein, who received about 1 percent of the vote and gained 66 votes in the recount, held a rally Tuesday at the state Capitol to address the results of the state’s historic recount, which her campaign paid $3.5 million to initiate, and launch Count My Vote Wisconsin.

The event drew a few dozen people, though many of them were reporters.

The recount added 131 votes to Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

It also corrected more than 11,000 erroneously counted votes out of nearly 3 million cast, but found no major structural problems with the state’s voting system.

Stein’s campaign raised more than $7 million in a short period to fund recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Only the Wisconsin recount made it past court challenges seeking to halt all three.

Stein said there are still some litigation costs her campaign must pay, but that any surplus will pay for advocating for changes such as replacing voting machines with hand-marked ballots read by optical scanners, ensuring audits of elections take place and requiring recounts in close races.

She said the group’s advocacy will also include fighting against voter ID laws and interstate voter registration cross-check systems that have been used to purge voter rolls in some states, implementing a voting method that allows voters to rank candidates rather than pick one and replacing the commission that oversees presidential debates with something that would be friendlier to third-party candidates.

The Wisconsin Election Commission said Tuesday the actual cost of the recount stands at $1.8 million, with two counties yet to report final costs (Brown and Kenosha counties’ combined estimate was about $368,000). Altogether that’s about half of what the counties originally estimated.

Stein said it shouldn’t take a “bake sale on steroids” to ensure the integrity of an election.

“It’s not the only instance in which we the voters were told if we the voters wanted to have a verified vote it was going to cost us an obscene amount of money,” Stein said. “It seemed like this was part of a broader resistance to transparency and accountability in our vote.”

Stein also criticized the recount for not being done completely by hand.

More than 55 percent of the votes were recounted by hand, but Milwaukee, with higher poverty and potentially more ballot issues, was one of the counties that did a machine recount.

Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney noted the machine recount still identified errors and didn’t simply replicate the original count, as Stein suggested. That’s because officials and observers conducting the recount in Milwaukee could still flag ballots that machines didn’t read properly the first time.

“There are improvements we can and will make for training and other materials,” Magney said, but added, “most of the errors were human and not machine.”


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